Ordinarily, I think I'm quite good at blocking out certain parts of the media following games. I tend to go into a media blackout if Arsenal lose and skirt over any nonsensical criticism when they win.
Following yesterday's thrilling 3-1 win over Liverpool though, I've found it impossible to avoid the utter gutter-based media response. The only thing that should have been out there today should be about how well Arsenal played and the implications that that result and performance has on the title race. But yet again, there is a refusal to do that and instead a twisted desire to focus on the celebrations.
Now, I've always felt that when opposing fans raise the issue of a team celebrating too much, it's just a case of sour grapes. I don't understand it, but I can rationalise it by the notion that fans are somewhat erratic, emotional and looking for any single thing to justify their team's performance following a defeat. Normally I can just laugh this off and move on. However, since yesterday all we have seen and heard is so called reputable media personalities chucking their two cents in, and it all started with Jamie Carragher.
In response to the Arsenal celebrations, particularly Martin Odegaard taking a photo of the club photographer, Carragher stated: “Just get down the tunnel. You’ve won a game. Three points, they have been brilliant, they are back in the title race. Get down the tunnel. I’m serious, honestly.”
Don't get me wrong, his saltiness in isolation is sensational and made me laugh a lot. To get that irate over the club captain celebrating with the club photographer is hilarious. He should have simply been called out for his nonsense and everyone moved on. Instead, the majority of Liverpool fans, and those who simply dislike Arsenal, are adopting his horrendous opinion as fact and basing it as their own. Again, this is quite funny because it just shows how inept the majority of football fans are at forming their own opinions. Today however, we've got entire news outlets having segments solely based on the zest of the celebrations.
Naive. Immature. Celebrating like they've won the title. All of this over a player taking a picture of a cameraman. And it's the two words of Carragher's rant that made me laugh the most. "I'm serious". Oh, okay then, Jamie, I guess we all have to stop what we're doing because a renowned Liverpool fan is unhappy that his side lost.
There was a time when I genuinely thought Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher were a really good double act. They were informed and seemed to be taking analysis in a really positive direction. Yet in recent years they have simply shown themselves to be TV personalities and nothing more. They say outlandish things to get a reaction, and it inevitably does because of who they are. Subsequently, people like me bite and the media outlets get exactly what they want: traction.
For me though, it simply shows the appalling state of the punditry world. Rather than having informed debates about the tactics involved, or the intricacies that the common football fan might otherwise not be able to identify, we're subjected to utter drivel about celebrating.
The hypocrisy is telling as well. Jürgen Klopp is a manager who consistently celebrates with gusto. I remember when he celebrated a late winner in a 5-4 win over Norwich where he broke his glasses. He's also a man who sprinted into the middle of the pitch when his side scored a late winner in the Merseyside derby. Or how about storming up to the fourth official and screaming in his face after a perceived injustice had paled into insignificance following a goal? I literally didn't care about any of those things. It showed emotion and passion. It also showed that football icons that we idolise aren't robots.
Mikel Arteta on the other hand seems to be held to an altogether different standard. His celebration following the third goal was deemed 'forced' by some, whereas his engagement with the home support following the final whistle was him 'going too far' and 'mocking Klopp'. Again, for us as Arsenal fans, his reactions show he's one of us, much like Klopp's overzealous actions show he is one of them. It might annoy us, but it's absolutely fine.
This is as much a piece for fans of all clubs as it is for those who support Arsenal. The celebration police are often out in force, and it needs to stop. Football is about enjoyment. For many it is an opportunity to forget our normal lives and simply revel in the moment.
Football is and should be about enjoyment. It should be like that whoever you support. Whether you are a Plymouth Argyle supporter or a Real Madrid fan, don't ever stop enjoying precious moments like the ones that us Arsenal fans experienced yesterday. Life's too short.