Football fans, especially Premier League football fans, have an earned reputation for being irreverent assholes. From homophobic chanting and singing about tragedies to interrupting moments of silence, it's remarkably common to hear about terrible fan behavior nearly every single weekend of the season.
The frequency of such behavior is why Arsenal fans respectfully observing the minute’s silence in tribute to the 97 victims of the Hillsborough disaster last weekend stood out the those present at Anfield. Not only did the traveling Gunners supporters respect the tribute, but they were also reportedly very well-behaved throughout the weekend and the entirety of the match. There were zero stories of their fans singing about Hillsborough or participating in any offensive chants, which is almost unheard of at Liverpool matches these days.
LFC fans weren’t the only ones who took notice of Arsenal’s fans being on their best behavior. They were also praised by manager Jürgen Klopp.
“It was probably the most respectful minute’s silence I’ve ever witnessed last week,” Klopp said in a press conference today.
“There was absolutely no noise, apart from a little baby, and it was absolutely fine – that you could even hear the baby showed how silent it was. It was really obvious how the Arsenal supporters in that moment, how that worked out, it was touching to be honest.”
The Arsenal supporters truly bucked the trend of traveling to an away match and doing everything you can to simply rile up the home fans no matter how vile the methods, something Klopp is all too familiar with.
“Football supporters can be a really mean group. If you find a weak point of somebody, then you just put your finger in it. A lot of groups and football supporters are guilty of that, not only in football but in sports in general – The more attention you give it the more often they will do it.”
Fortunately, that is not how the Arsenal fans acted. They chose, instead, to follow the lead of their manager and captain. Mikel Arteta and Martin Ødegaard laid wreaths at the Hillsborough Memorial the day before the match, and Arteta wore a visible ‘97’ badge throughout the day of the match in tribute to the Hillsborough victims.
While these gestures and fan behaviors seem so simple and unremarkable, it’s important to highlight and credit them when they happen because of how uncommon they are in the Premier League. The entire group of people representing Arsenal at Anfield, both as club officials and as fans, deserve to be commended. Premier League culture would be better off by far if more fans, players, and managers behaved as they did.