Henrikh Mkhitaryan has played four games in Arsenal colours at Emirates Stadium since joining from Manchester United in January. His home debut against Everton aside, those matches have been played in front of swathes of empty seats.
While the majority of seats in the 60,000 arena were technically sold for the matches with Ostersund, Manchester City and Watford, thousands didn’t bother turning up.
Low profile opposition, snow, travel problems, frustration with results and the manager and apathy have all played a part, further killing the matchday atmosphere at a stadium that’s hardly made a name for itself on that front since it opened in 2006.
You wonder what the players make of it, particularly new boys Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan who’ve experienced the spectacle of Borussia Dortmund’s ‘yellow wall’ at the Westfalenstadion.
For his part Henrikh, who grabbed his fifth assist and second goal for Arsenal in the 3-0 win against the Hornets on Sunday, says the team will always play for those ‘real’ fans who make the effort during the good times and the bad.
“We’re always playing for the fans, it doesn’t matter if they could have come today or not,” Mkhitaryan told beIN Sports.
“We’re always playing for those who come and support us; [those] who are really coming and supporting us are real fans.
“[To those] who are coming to the stadium just when we are winning we have nothing to say. Just thanks to the fans who were supporting.”
It’ll be interesting to see if the stadium is nearer capacity on Thursday when AC Milan come to visit. Usually, you’d expect a full house for such prestigious opponents but the way things are going, that’s far from a given these days.
It’s a real shame to see such a great stadium so empty, even if the football has been tawdry at times this season.