The moment Chelsea and Arsenal fans came together

Reece James of Chelsea celebrates vs Arsenal (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Reece James of Chelsea celebrates vs Arsenal (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) /

Last Sunday, Chelsea squared off against one of its biggest local rivals in Arsenal. The two London sides are considered to be part of the big six and so it was always going to be a feisty game. Add to that the history between the two clubs, and you can see why neither team wanted to lose. Although the match was built up to be a blockbuster, at the end of the day, the game was rather one-sided. The Blues dominated the match and won 2-0. However, instead of constant boos around the Emirates Stadium, there was one moment when both the sides came together and put their rivalry behind them.

English derbies are generally quite rough and we have seen some absolutely cracking London derbies in the last few years. The Gunners came into the match as underdogs, while the Blues were starting their £97.5 million signing. Although the men in red and white were clearly the weaker team, they did have the fans backing them for the first time since the COVID shutdown 18 months prior. It was great to see the passionate Gunners fans back at their stadium as their songs and chants reminded fans what football is all about at its core.

Reece James’ scary scene at the Emirates saw Chelsea and Arsenal fans unite

Arsenal played quite well in the opening 10 minutes with the home support behind them. However, Chelsea knew how to exploit the Gunners’ shaky defense and before long, Arsenal found it trailing to its rival. The goal was scored by Romelu Lukaku and before long, the man who assisted the club record signing, Reece James, doubled the Blues’ advantage. After the second goal, Arsenal pretty much lost the tempo of the game, and although the fans kept on cheering, the Gunners just did not have enough in the locker to make a comeback. For Arsenal, James was the villain of the night and someone even threw a bottle at him when he was celebrating his goal. However, there was one moment in the game when rivalries were put aside and everyone in the stadium came together in support of the youngster.

In the 73′ of the contest, James went up for a header against Nuno Tavares. While he was coming down, his jaw hit the Arsenal player’s boots. The Chelsea academy graduate immediately collapsed to the floor and apparently seemed to be knocked out. It was later revealed by Thomas Tuchel that the player was in fact not unconscious. Rather, he was simply shocked by the contact and just worried about his teeth. However, at that time, everyone in the stadium thought that the English right back could’ve been unconscious.

The moment James fell on the ground motionless, the entire ground fell silent. There was eventually a huge ovation—even from the Arsenal fans—when he got back up on his feet. This was a classy move by the Gunners’ faithful to put the age-old rivalry on hold and show compassion toward a player’s well-being. James was their worst enemy throughout the game, but football was just that in the scary moment—a game.

The whole football world came together when Christian Eriksen collapsed during the Euros and many claim that football fans have become more considerate since that event. However, in my opinion, the human race has always been based on social interactions, harmony and co-existence. While yes, there might be a few bad eggs—like the one who threw a bottle at James and the ones who racially abused Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka after they missed their penalties in the final—the majority of football fans care about each other.

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When the Chelsea defender was receiving the ovation, the scoreline, teams and rivalry were all forgotten. Everyone was just pleased to see the young lad up on his feet and not injured. The beautiful game of football once again brought us all together, and it showed us that even in dark times, there is always a beckon of sunlight.