Four games into the new season and the celebration police are out in force already.
It was a familiar theme towards the end of last season at Arsenal, with people seemingly queuing up to have a pop when they dared to show some emotion after a win.
And it hasn’t taken long to kick-off again this time around, with football’s most famous cancelled TV anchor taking aim at Arsenal for the heinous crime of celebrating their dramatic late comeback victory against Fulham on Saturday.
It was a win that maintained their 100 per cent start to the season, a win that sent them back to the top of the table and a win that ended a run of eight years in which they have failed to come out on top in a Premier League match having fallen behind in the second half.
Yet despite all that, Richard Keys (yep, remember him) was having none of it.
“Steady, it’s Fulham,” he said to Andy Gray, during beIN SPORTS’ post match coverage of the game. “And they trailed at one time.
“Yeah, well played, you came back to win it and they keep their 100 per cent record intact. But they haven’t won the [Premier League] title tonight. They have won a London derby.
“They’re four games into the season. Look at the manager.
“Enjoy it, but I don’t understand this. They’ve beaten Fulham. They’ve won nothing. They’ve over celebrated this.”
So there you go. Richard has spoken.
Arsenal players and fans, take note. Please control yourselves next time you come back to score a late winner.
It doesn’t matter if that win has sent you back to the top of the table, it doesn’t matter if you’re a fan and you’re enjoying going to football more than you have done in years, it doesn’t even matter if you’ve spent £100 or more to be at the ground.
Just please, please, please don’t over celebrate (whatever that even is). Because Richard – sitting in his studio over in Qatar – said so.
A simple pat on the back and the odd high five will suffice.
Now, sarcasm aside, Keys’ comments – as ridiculous as they were – just highlighted a man who is so out of touch it’s embarrassing.
He tried to back track a bit on Sunday during beIN’s broadcast of the Wolves vs Newcastle game, saying that his words were aimed purely at the ‘coach and his players’.
But even if that was the case (which it clearly wasn’t), who on earth is he to tell anyone how to celebrate a win?
Even Nigel de Jong, a player who has reached a World Cup final, was sitting next to him in the studio telling him he was ‘putting too much weight on a celebration’.
Yet all Keys could do was continuously try to interrupt him. “Nigel, Nigel, they played Fulham!’
So not only was Keys digging out Arsenal, he was showing a complete lack of respect for Fulham, a side who had started the season unbeaten up to Saturday’s game, drawing against Liverpool and Wolves and beating Brentford.
It was as painful to watch as it was frustrating and I would have loved to have known what was going through de Jong’s head as Keys was trying to shut him down while he was trying to get his point across.
Now not that anyone at Arsenal should have to explain themselves for celebrating a win, but it’s always good to put a bit of context on things.
This is a club and a fanbase that has been totally re-energised in the past couple of years.
It would have been easy for things to have turned a bit nasty given the way last season ended, but it’s been the complete opposite at Arsenal since the start of the current campaign.
If anything the supporters are even more behind their team now than they were when things were going well last season.
He could feel the connection between players and fans had been completely broken and knew that he didn’t have a chance of being successful if he couldn’t fix that divide.
“I don’t know any top teams, winning teams, that don’t have that connection with their supporters,” Arteta said, while discussing that exact topic after Saturday night’s win.
It’s so clear when you actually follow Arsenal now, rather than watching them from your studio in Qatar, that the connection Arteta talks about has been restored.
Going to games at Emirates Stadium is a completely different experience to what it was even a couple of years ago.
The streets outside the ground are packed three hours before kick-off and the atmosphere inside is on another level to what it has been. The division and the in-fighting of recent years suddenly feels a long way away.
Look at the reaction to Fulham’s goal on Saturday. There were no boos, no groans. While Fulham were still celebrating, the Arsenal fans were on their feet trying to rally their side. They did the same immediately after William Saliba’s own goal against Leicester two weeks earlier.
That is the sort of thing that Arteta has been working towards and that is the sort of thing that people like the horribly out of touch Keys and Gray just don’t get.
No-one should be told how they should celebrate. This is football. It’s about passion, it’s about spontaneity, it’s about support. Take those things away and what’s the point of the whole thing?
Who cares if you celebrate after four games, after 14 games, or after 38? Do it whenever you want and enjoy every last second of it.
Keys’ take on the whole thing just stunk of a man who has fallen out of love with the game – and I’m not even going to touch on the classless way he spoke about Arteta during his desperate attempt to stay relevant.
But if those were his genuine views, rather than an obvious attempt to spark some controversy, then I honestly feel sorry for him because I dread that sort of thing happening to me.
If my first thoughts when watching a team celebrating a late win with their fans are ones of ridicule and derision, then I will know it’s time to pack up and go home.
Fortunately, I’m nowhere near that place just yet.
And judging by what we saw on Saturday night, no-one at Arsenal is either.
Thank heavens for that!