ARSENAL FAN VIEW FROM THE STANDS: 272 days of waiting finally ended

ARSENAL FAN VIEW: A meaningless Europa League game on a freezing cold Thursday has never been so popular as 272 days of waiting ended on a night that showed going to football is about so much more than the 90 minute match

  • Fans finally returned to the Emirates Stadium on Thursday after 272 days away
  • Arsenal’s win vs Rapid Vienna shows going to football is more than 90 minutes 
  • It was a different experience but a night to celebrate finally being back home
  • REPORT: Mikel Arteta’s side put on thrilling display to make light work of visitors 

A meaningless Europa League group game on a freezing cold Thursday night has never been so popular.

From the moment the first chant was sung – a customary ‘What do you think of Tottenham?’ 15 minutes before kick-off, two- hundred-and-seventy-two days of wait came to an end.

The air was chilling, the result was pleasing but neither of those emotions topped coming back home.

Arsenal were finally able to welcome 2,000 fans back into the Emirates Stadium on Thursday

Sportsmail’s Sam Blitz was among the 2,000-strong crowd to watch Arsenal on Thursday night

Thursday night’s game shows that going to football matches is much more than the 90 minutes. It’s about the community you go with, the familiar faces you see in the pub and the stands, the banter with the away fans. So something still lacks when everyone’s not there.

Yet this was still a night for celebration. 

It started as soon as you walked in the ground, every steward welcomed you through the turnstile with a standing ovation – and that noise filtered through to the terraces – as did the supporters as the stewards were keen to move them on.

The chants throughout the game filtered through the masks but the face coverings couldn’t hold back the joy at every goal going in, especially Alexandre Lacazette’s opener.

There were advantages to less fans being present as you could hear the players’ conversations

The first-half display especially made us forget there was no in-ground pint on offer at the break. 

The celebrations were jubilant even though we were apart – my regular matchday companion was 10 seats away.

That being said, apart from the temperature checks and the obvious social distancing, there wasn’t much change to overall scene. 

The concourses were free to move around in, the half-time toilet queue was still a nightmare and persistent standing is still frowned upon.

Overall, Arsenal did well to keep us safe and social distanced – especially for a first trial. 

The club did well to keep fans socially-distanced, particularly for a first time operation

Vaccine is still to be rolled out, but seeing Arsenal win at home is enough of a dosage for now

There are even some plus points of limited crowds too: you could hear the players on the pitch easily, the in-stadium signal is excellent and the post-match queues for the Tube are much shorter.

Yet we’d swap all of that for everyone to be back and for Thursday night’s noise to be even louder.

We’re still waiting on a vaccine – but watching Arsenal win at home – let alone in the flesh again – is a sufficient dosage for now. 

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