Premier League English

Special to have 2,000 Arsenal fans back at the Emirates – Mikel Arteta

2,000 fans were in attendance at the Emirates to cheer on Arsenal as they ended up 4-1 winners against Rapid Vienna in their penultimate Europa League group game.

Mikel Arteta’s side were able to halt their temporary slide in the Premier League to maintain their 100 per cent record in the Europa League competition, which has come as a silver lining in the dark clouds that had been gathering over the Gunners.

Arteta hailed the “special” return of the 2,000 Arsenal fans, adding that the players felt a huge difference as it has been nine months since fans have graced the stands of the Emirates, but after a recent lifting of England’s second national lockdown and return to Tier 2 restrictions in London, a small number of fans were allowed back into the stadium.

The Gunners’ recent run of poor form, especially in the Premier League, took a positive turn as the Arsenal fans were treated to a superb performance by their team, beating Rapid Vienna 4-1 and seeing the return of long-term injury absentees Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers.

Arteta said: “It was very special and [I’m] delighted to have them [the fans] back. I think they made a huge contribution.

“We had 2,000 but it looked like many more. They were really supportive with the team, they were very encouraging to the team and the lads were saying here it makes a huge difference to feel that encouragement and support from them.

“Thank you so much to them for coming and supporting the team.

“This sport without fans is completely different. The players lose a bit of purpose and emotion. We are here to entertain and make the fans enjoy. When they are able to transmit that it gets directly to the players.”

Arsenal face Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.