Atmosphere at the Emirates

The Daily Telegraph recently ranked all 20 Premier League grounds in terms of atmosphere and placed the Emirates 17th out of 20 with Selhurst Park at the top.

The paper said that the move from Highbury to the Emirates had done little to improve the atmosphere. The ground not filling up until just before kick off along with a “well-heeled” crowd were seen as contributory factors.
Is this fair and does the Emirates have an atmosphere problem? Many will remember a survey conducted a year ago by the Black Scarf Movement which called for the club to revive the spirit of the old Clock End at Highbury, suggesting there had indeed been deterioration in the atmosphere since the move to the Emirates.

The survey also called for safe standing areas to be re-introduced, in common with the views of fans across the country, which have seen this work successfully - notably in German football.

However, if safe standing is off the agenda what other measures can be taken to help make the Emirates a cauldron of noise? The Clock End has gone but while the terracing may have disappeared, that doesn't mean the noise has too.

The Emirates can still generate a great atmosphere. It depends to some extent who the opposition are and when the game is played. European nights can be terrific and night games generally seem to instinctively generate more noise from the crowd. London derbies help of course as do games against the Manchester clubs. So, when the Gunners are playing genuine for the Premier League title rivals, the atmosphere tends to be better – and all the action can be followed at Blue Square, in case you fall out of the footballing loop.

Alternatively, playing Stoke on Saturday lunchtime is never going to compare to facing Spurs on a Saturday night. It never will and at those times the crowd will take some warming up, whether it’s by the team or by the noise of the opposing fans. Whatever it is, in those circumstances, the crowd usually need some focal point to get their teeth into.

So, to be 17th in the Telegraph survey is disappointing but it’s fair to say it wasn't compiled when we were playing Spurs or Chelsea. Like all grounds the Emirates has its moments and can have a fantastic atmosphere. Perhaps the message should be for fans to start making more of a noise themselves rather than often waiting for the team to do something to provoke them.

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