Arsenal got their Europa League campaign off to a winning start, beating Ukrainian side FC Vorskla 4-2 at the Emirates last night.
However, the quality of the opposition and general lack of interest in the competition – at least at this early stage – made for a very low attendance, illustrating it wasn’t simply Arsene Wenger apathy that contributed to low crowds last season.
The stadium was conceived and built to help consolidate the Gunners as one of the biggest clubs in Europe and the Champions League, so it highlights the job ahead for Unai Emery and the club itself to get us back there.
The Arsenal boss was asked about the attendance last night, and said it was up to his team to get fans excited and willing to spend their Thursdays watching football against relatively lower-quality opposition.
“We are starting in this competition and we need to show them, our supporters, that we are excited for this competition and we want to do a great way in the Europa League,” he said.
“But I think it’s step by step. I am sure they are going to come, little by little, more supporters here with us.
“But also, it’s our work to bring them here.”
Goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil put Emery’s men 4-0 up with less than twenty minutes to play, but some carelessness at the back saw the visitors get two back before the final whistle, and the Spaniard is urging his men to stay focused from first whistle to last.
“We are speaking before each match to take a mentality of ‘don’t concede chances easily’,” he said.
“I think today is a good opportunity for not accepting goals, but the last 30 minutes, we needed to be better on this competitive aspect.”