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Fans are finally back at a Premier League stadium as Arsenal supporters make their return

Fans finally returned to watch an English top-flight side in action with Arsenal hosting Rapid Vienna in the Europa League at the Emirates Stadium in front of thousands.

The Gunners sold out their 2,000 tickets – which were distributed on a ‘first come, first served’ basis – for the Group B fixture inside 20 minutes on Saturday morning.

The north London side have now become the first top flight team to take advantage of the new rules allowing fans to return in relatively small numbers following the end of England’s lockdown on Wednesday.

Fans have returned to a Premier League ground for the first time in eight months at Arsenal

The Gunners sold out their 2,000 tickets for the Europa League game against Rapid Vienna

 The Gunners sold out their 2,000 tickets for the Europa League game against Rapid Vienna

And many fans were seen wearing club scarves as they returned for the first time since March

And many fans were seen wearing club scarves as they returned for the first time since March

Fans were also applauded by the Arsenal stewards upon entering the turnstiles at the ground

Fans were also applauded by the Arsenal stewards upon entering the turnstiles at the ground

Some fans fumed as the online ticketing system crashed to leave them without a ticket for the game, but those enough lucky enough to have got their hands on one made their way to the Emirates for the first time since early March.

Many of the returning fans – who were spread across two stands – were seen sporting smiles and club colours in the form of scarves and face masks as they returned to what now will be quite unfamiliar surroundings.

And in such unfamiliarity, fans have also be advised to abstain from close physical contact if and when they get to celebrate a goal scored by Mikel Arteta’s side, who could secure top spot with a result against the Austrian outfit. 

Fans had to have their temperatures taken by security staff before entering the premises

Fans had to have their temperatures taken by security staff before entering the premises

Social distancing measures are also in place when supporters are away from their seats

Social distancing measures are also in place when supporters are away from their seats

Gunnersaurus also made his return with the role of mascot now set to be rotated between staff

Gunnersaurus also made his return with the role of mascot now set to be rotated between staff

Social distancing measures have been put in place – such as recycled plastic bags indicating unavailable seats and shirts put in place to show the required distanced while queuing for food and drink in the turnstiles – and masks being worn by all while inside the premises unless consuming something.

Fans also had to apply hand sanitiser and go through the routine security checks- which included a temperature check – before entering, while stewards were seen applauding every supporter coming through the turnstiles.

The Gunners starting XI also did the same, going over to the side of the pitch to clap those who had come back to see them in action in the flesh, and the players were soon celebrating with them after Alexandre Lacazette’s wonderstrike to make it 1-0.

Pablo Mari, back in the side after six months out injured, made it 2-0 before Eddie Nketiah added a third before half-time.  

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

The club are using recycled plastic bags to indicate social distancing measures in the ground

The club are using recycled plastic bags to indicate social distancing measures in the ground

Fans will also have to wear face masks while watching the game against Rapid Vienna

Fans will also have to wear face masks while watching the game against Rapid Vienna

Supporters were also delighted to see the return of Gunnersaurus, with the role now rotated between members of staff after former mascot Jerry Quy was made redundant in October following a series of Covid-19 cost-cutting measures.

The return of fans was clearly an attraction, with former England cricketer Monty Panesar was outside to take it all in, despite not having a ticket.

Ahead of the game, Gunners boss Mikel Arteta said: ‘It is going to be extraordinary to have them back.

‘The club has done amazing work to facilitate everybody at short notice to be able to attend the stadium and I am sure it will work really well.

‘I am feeling sorry as well for thousands of fans that I am sure would like to make it, but can’t be there.

‘We are ready to host as many as we possibly can. It is going to depend on how the pandemic develops, and the new measurements when we start to open things up a little bit and see how people react to that. Hopefully we can do that.

Fans are also being encouraged to avoid close physical contact with others in the ground

Fans are also being encouraged to avoid close physical contact with others in the ground

‘Who knows how it is going to develop? What we can do as a club, we will do to our maximum obviously.’

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also delivered a pre-match video message to supporters, stating: ‘Football is all about you: the fans.

‘We’ve missed you and we are so happy to start welcoming you back. To the 2,00 fans at the Emirates Stadium tonight and the millions around the world, thank you so much for your support.

‘Most of us are still apart, but we’re still together.’ 

Stewards are also back doing their usual duties at grounds with supporters returning

Stewards are also back doing their usual duties at grounds with supporters returning

Food and drink is still being served once supporters have entered the turnstiles at the ground

Food and drink is still being served once supporters have entered the turnstiles at the ground 

Fans were delighted at being among the lucky few to be given the chance to see the Gunners back in action.

One tweeted: ‘Back at the emirates after 9 long months! Great to have some fans back,’ while another added: ‘Feels so good to be back. Really strange but still good.’

Another also tweeted: ‘After nine months away, we’re back home,’ while another preferred a sarcastic approach, stating: ‘Back in, goal outside the box, and a converted free kick… miracles do happen.’ 




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