Arsene Wenger expects the Emirates to be full when CSKA Moscow visit on Thursday evening even though his side secured their fourth consecutive win – a 3-0 victory over Stoke City – in front of swathes of empty seats.
Despite the majority of tickets being sold, the stadium looked no more than two thirds full as a televised ‘dead rubber’ game against unglamorous opposition on a major religious holiday proved far from tempting.
Poor weather and a clash with Mother’s Day were blamed for huge no-shows against Manchester City and Watford, this time, the boss suggested that playing the match on Easter had played a part.
“They will be back on Thursday, don’t worry,” he told his post-game press conference.
“It’s explainable by the fact that it’s Easter. It’s a family happening where people go away and it’s a fact that we don’t think about a lot in the Premier League.
“There’s also the fact that we had a break. In the Premier League, in the last two or three weeks, we’ve faced that problem. It’s just down to the fact that we’re not fighting for the championship. People know that will not change now.”
Asked whether the low attendances will take a toll on the global popularity of the Premier League’s product, Wenger was quick to point out that Arsenal’s home form, even in defeat, has been pretty good this campaign.
He said: “No, at home we’ve had quite a strong season. Maybe we’ve been one of the strongest for a long time.
“I think that’s a combination of quality and number of goals scored. The quality of the games we’ve produced here, even the two games we lost at home – against Manchester City was just after the League Cup final and the 33 shots on goal we had against Manchester United – we put in outstanding performances.
“It’s away from home that we have lost our opportunities and the fans are disappointed by that.”
As far as we can tell, tickets are still available to Arsenal members for Thursday’s match – if you’re looking for one, check out the official website. It might be worth popping along given this is our last chance of rescuing anything from the season.