Soccer

On This Day in 2020: Gunners welcome their fans back in style

Arsenal welcomed 2,000 fans into the Emirates (Adam Davy/PA)
Arsenal welcomed 2,000 fans into the Emirates (Adam Davy/PA) Arsenal welcomed 2,000 fans into the Emirates (Adam Davy/PA)

Arsenal announced they would become the first Premier League club to welcome fans in for a competitive fixture since March following the coronavirus pandemic, on this day in 2020.

The north London club confirmed 2,000 spectators were to be allowed in for their Europa League match against Rapid Vienna the following week.

The Gunners learned Emirates Stadium was to be in tier two of the Government’s new regionalised approach to tackling the coronavirus pandemic, and were able to welcome fans in for the clash with the Austrian side.

A club statement read: “It’s been almost nine long months since we had fans in attendance at Emirates Stadium and our matches have simply not been the same without you.

“While we appreciate that reduced capacity matches will be far from being ‘back to normal’, we can’t wait to welcome our fans back home for what will be a historic moment for the club.”

This was the first time fans have been able to watch a Premier League side in action since the first coronavirus lockdown saw the 2019-20 season pause in March.

Arsenal v Rapid Vienna – UEFA Europa League – Group B – Emirates Stadium
Arsenal v Rapid Vienna – UEFA Europa League – Group B – Emirates Stadium Arsenal played in front of 2,000 fans (Adam Davy/PA)

In the match itself, Arsenal eased to a 4-1 victory.

The Gunners had already booked their place in the knockout stages, but a comfortable win meant they finished at the top of Group B.

Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring with an impressive long-range strike before Pablo Mari, returning to the team for the first time since suffering an ankle injury in June, headed in a second, with academy graduates Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith Rowe adding the gloss either side of Kohya Kitagawa’s consolation.