While Arsenal will be back in action after the international break this weekend, alongside clubs from around Europe, one thing will be missing – the fans. That’s been the case for more than eight months now and it looks set to continue for quite some time to come, which we can all admit has been one of the major disadvantages of putting the game back on during a global pandemic.
During a recent interview with Arsenal.com, manager Mikel Arteta opened up about the ordeal and spoke honestly about wanting to see fans back at the Emirates as soon as possible.
“It is definitely affecting the players,” Mikel Arteta says. “Now, for example with the lockdown: you win at Old Trafford, you feel excited, your adrenaline is really high, you go home and you want to celebrate, you want to do something, but you just go home, by yourself – some of the players live by themselves – and you go home, sit on the sofa, and that’s it.
“To find that purpose and say, ‘Okay, I work so hard for this moment, I want to enjoy it, I want to have people around me’ but you have nothing, so it is a completely different life.
“In our case, when you try to build a new project you need to engage the fans with the team. They have to see live what the team is transmitting. It is completely different on the TV, you are not able to do that.
“Without creating that chemistry between players and fans, for them to believe, for them to see live what we are trying to do, it is complicated. We need that. The players have to feel, ‘Wow, these guys are really behind us, they are really pushing, they are liking what we are trying to do… I feel more motivated, more engaged, I want to participate’ – and we are lacking that.”
There are far more important things going on in the world right now and it’s important to recognise that point, but it doesn’t mean we can’t miss the atmosphere that is generated whenever the Gunners step out in front of a full crowd. There are thousands of people out there who use that thrill to get them through the working week, and it’ll be a great day when they walk back through the turnstiles again.
When do you think fans will be allowed to return?