Arsenal may not have beaten the European Champions Chelsea yesterday, but they certainly provided a lot of entertainment for the thousands of Arsenal fans that were lucky enough to get hold of Arsenal tickets to see the game.
It was great to hear the chanting again and see the crowd cheering on the team rather than listening to the canned crowd noises we were subjected to during the prolonged pandemic shut-out.
It was the first thing that Mikel Arteta talked about after the game, and despite the defeat to Chelsea there was nothing but encouragement from the terraces. The only bad point was listening to the boos when Willian’s name was announced but after that the atmosphere was excellent.
Mikel told Arsenal.com: “First of all, it was a great atmosphere. The fans were right behind the team and I think with 20 or 25,000, they created a great atmosphere at the stadium. It was a great test for us against the best team in Europe.
“I think we showed some really positive stuff and some worrying stuff when we gave the ball away in difficult positions, and when we had to do defensive organisation, it opened spaces in difficult moments. For what we could do against that team and where we are in pre-season, I think it was positive.”
The brilliant reception that Ben White got when he came out to warm up was also a joy to behold, and it can only increase the confidence of the players to know they have the crowd behind them when they are under pressure from our opponents.
Only last week, Rob Holding explained the difficulties of playing in an empty stadium, which many people have referred to being like watching a training game when seen on television. He told the Guardian. “When we were playing every three or four days and had no crowd, going again in front of an empty stadium, it did feel like a slog,”
“With fans coming back now, it’s crazy how different it feels, how much more energy there is on the pitch. When you make a tackle or a block and a big cheer goes up, then you’re excited for the next bit of play rather than just blocking it, hearing nothing and then thinking, like, ‘Oh’.”
Although England have pratically opened up all venues to supporters again, there will still be many conditions that need to be met, which is why the “Covid Passorts” will be trialled in the next couple of games in the Mind Series. Chelsea will be trying in on Wednesday when they play Tottenham at Stamford Bridge, and next weekend it will be in force for the Friendly North London derby at the Tottenham Stadium.
i am really looking forward to seeing the 12th man back in the stadium, and definitely want to see the fans intimidating our opponents so we can return to calling our home ground “The Fortress Emirates”….