The fans are back: Arsenal welcome 2,000 for Europa League dead rubber

As Arsenal’s players headed out for their pre-match warm up they were greeted by 2,000 supporters and a blast of Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’.

This was the first time fans have been able to watch a Premier League side in action since the first coronavirus lockdown saw last season grind to a halt in March.

It was only a small percentage of the Emirates Stadium’s capacity a Europa League dead rubber against Rapid Vienna, where Mikel Arteta rotated his entire team from the weekend’s Premier League game.

But it did not matter.

Spectators returned to lower-league venues a day earlier but this was a big moment for Arsenal and their fanbase.

A first-come-first-served ticketing system saw the website crash on Saturday morning but a lucky 2,000 were able to rejoice at the return.

It was clearly an attraction, former England cricketer Monty Panesar was outside to take it all in, despite not having a ticket.

“Football is all about you, the fans – we have missed you and we are so happy to be welcoming you back,” said Arsenal skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on a video played to the ones who were able to watch from the comfort of a stadium seat.

“We hate Tottenham” was the first audible chant – even though singing was supposed to be restricted.

A kit clash meant Arsenal could not play in their traditional red, their blue away kit would be worn to welcome home the select bunch.

Some would have been to cup finals and title deciders in recent years but this was also a sought-after ticket for a game which would have otherwise been considered an after-thought.

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