With the new COVID-19 restriction rule relaxations that came into play from December 2, English Premier League football clubs will now be able to welcome fans back into their stadiums for the first time since March.
Ten Premier League sides in Tier 2 lead the way. They are:
- Crystal Palace
- Tottenham Hotspur
- West Ham
All ten of the clubs listed above are in tier two. The remaining 20 Premier League clubs are in tier 3, so they will have to wait a little longer before opening their turnstiles again.
There are 34 other English Football League sides, plus eight Women’s Super League clubs who could, in theory, also welcome supporters back to live games. However, as of yet, none of them have confirmed whether or not they will do so.
Arsenal have already taken advantage of the new relaxation when, on December 3, they entertained Austrian club, SK Rapid Wien in their matchday 5 of 6 games in the Europa League. The North Londoners put on a great show for their fans – the first time in eight months.
When their 29-year-old French striker, Alexandre Lacazette, opened the scoring in the 10th minute of the game, it looked for one terrible moment that he had forgotten which way to turn in his celebration. But he quickly recovered and turned towards the small crowd to share the moment.
For both Lacazette and the rest of the players, it must have been a great joy to play in front of a live, appreciative crowd once again after months of playing soullessly behind closed doors.
Unfortunately, some fans got lost in the moment and ran down the stadium stairs to join the celebration – social distancing forgotten. That, of course, is the worry. The virus doesn’t need any excuse to spread. But, they can be forgiven for their brief transgression in the joy of the occasion.
Arsenal emerged as winners by 4-1 with goals from Pablo Mari, Eddie Nketiah, and Emile Smith Rowe in the 17th, 44th, and 66th minutes, respectively. After the game, The Gunners’ manager, Mikel Arteta, said that the fans had made a huge contribution to their success and that the team could feel the support and energy emanating from the supporters.
Pablo Mari, in particular, will feel well pleased with himself. The 27-year-old Spaniard, who plays center-back, had his loan deal converted into a permanent transfer in the summer transfer window. This was his first goal for Arsenal and a great way to celebrate the end of the lockdown.
The last match to take place in the Premier League was on March 9 when Leicester City beat Aston Villa 4-0 at the King Power Stadium. During the lockdown period, several clubs staged test events in their stadiums to prove that fans could come back safely. But the Arsenal/Wien game was the proof of the pudding – or so we hope.