To say Arsenal’s post-match celebrations following their 3-1 win over Liverpool were a little divisive would be a bit of an understatement.
Leandro Trossard’s 92nd-minute goal sealed the win and sparked wild scenes at the Emirates, with the usually calm Mikel Arteta running down the touchline to celebrate with supporters.
Afterwards, captain Martin Odegaard was spotted taking pictures of the club photographer, the players lingered on the pitch as though there was a trophy lift to come and there were plenty of dressing room snaps published on social media. You even had Arteta doing the Jurgen Klopp celebration with fans.
If you didn’t know any better, you could be forgiven for thinking the Gunners had just reached a final, claimed victory in a final or guaranteed themselves the Premier League title.
Yet it was just a win. A big win in the grand scheme of things, but a win all the same. At the time, it lifted Arsenal into second place, two points off leaders Liverpool. Following Manchester City’s 3-1 victory against Brentford, Mikel Arteta’s men are third in the table. If City win their game in hand, which looks extremely likely given the form they are in right now, the Gunners will be four points off the top. For a little context, they’re only five points clear of fifth-placed Spurs.
The Arsenal dressing room celebrate with Jorginho after his Man of the Match display 🔴🌟 pic.twitter.com/xDDcprrysy
— LiveScore (@livescore) February 4, 2024
Their reaction on Sunday seemed a little excessive and this resulted in many pundits – dubbed the celebration police – commenting on it.
Now, there are a lot of people defending what went on at the Emirates. Players, fans and staff should be able to celebrate victories, regardless of the situation. After all, football is about these moments. By the same token, if you make these celebrations so public, others are well within their right to comment.
Jamie Carragher seemed to irk a lot of people when he said: “Just get down the tunnel. You’ve won a game, three points. They’ve been brilliant, back in the title race… get down the tunnel.”
Personally, I thought he made a valid point.
It would’ve been much more of a statement had the Arsenal players just treated this as a routine win. It would’ve shown they meant business. Obviously, allow the fans to celebrate such an emphatic win, but the players, and the manager, had the opportunity to show a mentality shift at the club.
We’re Arsenal, we beat rivals and we’re focused on winning our first Premier League title in 20 years.
As a rival supporter, this sort of attitude would’ve made that performance even more ominous. Because Arsenal went into that game against Liverpool as favourites. They were at home, they’d performed better than the Reds in both match-ups earlier on in the season and Jurgen Klopp’s side was significantly weakened due to injuries. The pressure was on the hosts. They were expected to win.
It was an opportunity to show that the pressure wasn’t getting to them. If anything, it showed the complete opposite. It showed they felt the pressure. They seemed relieved to win the game and that is why the celebrations were as excessive as they were.
By all means enjoy it, but enjoy it by being disciplined! #ARSLIV
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) February 4, 2024
It was a chance to show that all of the efforts behind the scenes had been successful. We’ve seen Arteta play you’ll never walk alone at the training ground to prepare his players for Anfield. They even bought a dog called Win.
The former City assistant boss has tried to shift the ethos at the club. And he’s done a great job in taking them from mid-table to title contenders, albeit with a lot of financial backing. But this seems to be the final hurdle they just can’t clear. They need to believe they belong at the top. They need to accept they’re the real deal and then, maybe, they’ll get over the line and deliver in the final stages of a campaign.