Arsenal’s home match against Southampton could well be the defining game in Mikel Arteta’s reign.
For most Arsenal fans, the dour 0-0 result against Leeds is now firmly in the background as we focus on the club’s Europa League game against Molde.
However, as a diehard Arsenal supporter for many years, what I saw on social media after the game made me sit there and simply shake my head.
The abuse of Nicolas Pepe after his red card was nothing short of disgusting.
Seeing the amount of abuse towards not only Nicolas Pepe but also Ezgjan Alioski was horrendous.
Regarding Pepe, he was racially abused for an incident that was not even that bad. Yes, Pepe was in the wrong, and yes, Alioski made the most of it. But to have this level of abuse from the club’s so-called “fans” actually made me embarrassed to be a supporter of this club that I have loved for years.
The fact that to this day there are people out there that hide behind their keyboards and direct abuse in this manner is shocking and it was all over a football game. It was not a matter of life or death. It was simply a game of football.
These people need to realise that players have lives, and they have kids and families. Can you imagine if Nicolas Pepe’s little boy sees the abuse his father copped years from now? What will he think?
Racism has no place in football and has no place in anywhere in the world and the fact that the club’s supporters turned on him in such a way is truly sickening. They are meant to support the team, through the highs and the lows.
Arsenal fans stand by the players and the club because that is what fans are supposed to do. We all get upset at results sometimes, or the form of some players, and that is part of being a fan.
When someone makes a mistake as Pepe did against Leeds, it makes you ask: ‘why did he do that?’ There is an initial disappointment but then you must put it into context. It is only a football game and life goes on. The world does not stop after a bad result.
What is there to be gained from racially abusing a player, who is only 25 years old and has a young family as well?
How is he meant to feel when he sees this kind of stuff? How is he meant to play in front of those so-called fans and enjoy the beautiful game of football with those same people who abused him?
I feel for him. No one should be subjected to that and I was extremely proud of both Leeds and Arsenal for saying in their statement that they are going to try and bring the culprits to justice with the help of the police and other authorities.
Pepe has apologised for his indiscretion against Leeds but once the final whistle blew and the initial feelings from the game had subsided, that should have been it. Not the racial abuse that followed.
Hopefully Pepe will pick himself up after his red card and be back playing in front of fans when this pandemic is over. However, for some fans, they are already out on him as a player and that in itself is a shame as he has potential to be a great player.
Will he come back from this? I sure hope so because if he is driven out of the club by these people who call themselves fans, then that will truly be a dark day in the history of this great club.