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  • Writer's pictureSuzy Lycett

Why I want to see more goal celebrations from Arsenal Women

Updated: Jan 5

I love a goal celebration. While our team is celebrating on the pitch, we do exactly the same in the stands. The Conti Cup semi-final in the 22/23 season was the start of the big fan celebrations for Arsenal Women, at least that's how I see it. 

The limbs when Stina Blackstenius scored the winning goal, a few minutes into extra time, were incredible. I was hugging everyone, regardless of whether or not I knew them. 

However, normally, the player's goal celebrations involve simple hugs and pats on the head - nothing more exuberant than that. 

Well, Katie McCabe inevitably ends up leaping on top of someone.

Lotte celebrated her goal vs. Bristol by doing her promised arms-crossed celebration for young fan Izzy, which is very cute, and one of the only real examples of a pre-considered celebration from the team.

But those aren't a knee slide nor a taunting finger against lips directed at rival fans.

It's also rare to see our team celebrate with us fans directly too. Last season, that happened sporadically, although it is starting to happen more.

Steph celebrated with us for her brilliant goal vs. City, and Frida came close at the Southampton away game this week.

She ran to our corner but then veered off course at the last minute to - you guessed it - be hugged and patted on the head.

It's not surprising this is the case when Arsenal is home to Viv Miedema and her nondescript goal reactions. 

She's shared that her non celebrations are partly to respect the opposition, partly because she's an "easy-going, normal person", in her own words

Her lack of practice is evident when she does celebrate. Her forward roll in 2019 when she became the all-time top scorer for the Netherlands women’s team was iconic in its own right - but hardly a backflip.

That leads me to goal celebrations on the level of Sam Kerr. 

A backflip is a show of extravagance and arrogance, and I'm sure that Chelsea fans love it. The cupped ear at fans is another post-goal gesture which thoroughly gets my back up - and must do the same for their opposition on the pitch. 

Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp’s celebrations in the recent Manchester Derby were examples of proper sh*thousery - knee slides galore and shushing the fans. 

And that’s what you want in a Derby. They’re the ultimate in football rivalries, and any chance for a bit of one-upmanship should be jumped on. 

Banter is - and should be - a part of football. 

If we expect to get away with it as fans, we shouldn't bridle against players doing it too. 

If England loses to team USA with Alex Morgan doing a beyond-cocky tea celebration, doesn't it make it so much sweeter if we then beat them the next time - or, say, if they go out early in the World Cup..?

Football is played to tight margins, and small things make a difference. 

As fans, any way we can get into the opposition's heads - staying on the right side of banter versus abuse - we'll take it. The same for players. A bit of sh*thousery is a tactic in itself.

And goal celebrations, particularly in tight or crucial games, can be a moment to rock the confidence of your opposition. 

There does come a question of when it becomes excessive. 

The USA was criticised for its celebrations versus Thailand in the 2019 World Cup. Thirteen goals, and the USA celebrated each exuberantly. 

Was it disrespectful? Some pointed out that Mallory Pugh had just scored her first ever World Cup goal, and Megan Rapinoe was coming back from injury, but the stakes were, arguably, quite low.

In that game, the disparities in funding were evident. 

If the USA had lost, they'd have underperformed. By all means, go all out and score goals. That's what you're on the pitch to do. But I believe that the question of sportsmanship should still factor in - I'm loyal to Miedema's muted goals on that front. 

Maybe temper your celebrations after, say, the fourth goal that you score against a team if you're the clear favourite. 

It's been a fight for many teams to improve to reach this level - and to have the funding in place to make it possible.

It's not plain sailing yet, and sometimes, clubs take a step back. Take Reading, for example. 

Last season, they finished bottom of the table and dropped down into the Women’s Championship. Not long after the end of the season, the announcement came that they would operate on a part-time basis for the coming season. 

Yet, with each passing year, the overall standard of teams is getting tighter. 

Women's football is getting more and more competitive, so winning is more difficult to do. Players have every right to celebrate in this scenario. 

The WSL isn't a knock out tournament, so the stakes may seem lower than in other games, but that doesn't mean that each win isn't an achievement, especially in tightly contested games. 

Women have battled through a lot to get to have the chance to score in front of record-breaking crowds. 

Leah Williamson has also talked about how celebrations for smaller moments like a well-timed tackle are creeping into the game - and why not? In tight games, a celebration can be an expression of relief and help release tension. 

Lotte's celebration after her last minute tackle vs. Villa at the Emirates was on a par with a game-winning goal - and it was beautiful to see.

The sacrifices these players - or any professional athlete - make and the efforts they put in to get to this stage are worthy of recognition, whatever position they play. 

Research shows that women players celebrate for 30 seconds less than the men for each goal. The way I read theat, they can afford to spend a bit more time celebrating their performance and the fruition of that hard work.

To be clear, I'm not demanding all players start performing backflips. 

That could go disastrously wrong. Arsenal already has the worst luck with injuries. I'd rather not tempt fate. Even knee slides, knowing our track record, may be a little...well, dangerous.

And I appreciate that the players can react how they like. "Perform gymnastics at the behest of fans" isn't something in their job description.

Viv's muted response to her goals is an active choice on her part that I thoroughly admire for the lack of arrogance and the statement that it makes. 

But football would lose a certain "je ne sais quoi" if everyone took the same stance - and she has jokingly shared that she's working on her goal celebrations for this season. Now she’s back on the pitch, I hope to see that the practice has paid off…

At the end of the day, goals are what you pay to see, as a fan. 

A draw in a game is one thing; a 0-0 scoreline is not what anyone wants. 

Goals and goal celebrations mean something. It's a moment for players to connect with the crowd, with the fans that travel to watch them play, that are so invested in the game.

It’s a way for them to rile up their opposition, and cement rivalries that make supporters care even more deeply about the result. 

I'm very rarely jealous of other teams. Arsenal lead the way in most instances, but celebrations with their fans and banter with rivals is where they fall down.

And that's why, this season, I want to see The Arsenal's goal celebrations go big.

We have two North London derbies in December - those would be a good place to start...

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