Arsenal’s game at the London Stadium against West Ham United made plenty of buzz for numerous reasons, including the ramifications the final scoreline had for the Premier League title race.
Despite taking a 2-0 lead early into the first half, Arsenal failed to control the game, as West Ham eventually equalized during the second 45.
Right before the Hammers went level, Bukayo Saka missed a decisive penalty that would’ve likely secured the winner for Arsenal. The miss just about sums up a disappointing day at the office for the Gunners.
Aside from the score line, the visitors also drew attention for their pre-match actions, which involved an Arsenal mascot stationed right outside of the team’s changing room.
As seen in this clip shared by Arsenal’s official Twitter account, the young mascot was standing while holding up an Arsenal shirt for the players to sign.
Beginning with gaffer Mikel Arteta, the entire Arsenal team signed the shirt one by one, a great gesture but one that attracted a barrage of criticism from fans online.
Their complaints appeared to be centered around the fact that none of the Gunners offered some kind words to the young girl, while some even failed to smile.
They all just went by in a hurried manner, not unlike an assembly line at factories.
The lack of warmth displayed by the Gunners sucked the human element out of a gesture intended to be wholesome and memorable.
The cold expressions of certain players juxtaposed against the little girl’s adorable smile stand out as quite jarring, and many fans online felt the same.
They also pointed out that the little girl was visibly awestruck, in fact, you can see just how delighted she was when the likes of Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, and Aleksandr Zinchenko stepped forward to sign the shirt.’
Sadly, her exuberance wasn’t met with much in terms of acknowledgment from the Arsenal squad.
Their behaviors were labeled as ‘cold’ and ‘unsympathetic’ by many online, and a majority of fans were left displeased by the clip. Even talkSPORT presenter and Arsenal fan Laura Woods called out the clip.
While the criticism was certainly overwhelming, some users online did come to Arsenal’s aid.
Their arguments hinged on the importance of the game and the state of the title race.
A team in the midst of a title race are asked to sign a shirt moments before a a London derby vital to winning a 1st league title in 19 years, without being told why, and politely oblige.— Danny Armstrong (@DannyWArmstrong) April 17, 2023
But 2023 Twitter is crying because they didn’t pat the mascot on the head.
With Manchester City hot on their trail, every point counts, and as such, the Gunners needed to be ‘in their zone’ for the London derby at West Ham. Which could lead to a lapse in concentration when it comes to matters outside of the Football pitch.
Other takes suggested that the players probably knew the mascot would interact with them after full-time, a valid theory that was actually confirmed via a tweet from the young mascot’s father.
My daughter had a lovely time as Mascot for @Arsenal. There was only a small window to meet the players and she enjoyed it very much. Odegaard is her favourite player so to hold his hand onto the pitch was very special. pic.twitter.com/SXNTMK4Ab9— JMurray (@muzzygoona) April 18, 2023
No matter which side of the fence you sit on, future interactions with mascots need to improve dramatically.
And we hope that the changes come soon.