Arsenal fans returned to the Emirates Stadium on Thursday evening to watch their side take a Europa League win against Rapid Vienna.
A comfortable 4-1 win, inspired by a good opening game by Alexandre Lacazette, already means the Gunners are the best in Group B..
But the result was second fiddle after fans returned to top football since 2. 000 spectators were distributed – the first fans to see a game here in nine months.
Lacazette opened the standings with a long shot before Pablo Mari returned to the team for the first time since an ankle injury in June. Academy alumni Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith Rowe added the glamor to either side of Kohya Kitagawa’s solace.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta switched his entire starting XI from losing to Wolves at the weekend but they proved too strong for the crowd.
This was the first time fans have seen a Premier League team in action since the first coronavirus lockdown stalled last season in March.
The crowd returned to the lower division venues the day before, but this was a big moment for Arsenal and their fan base.
On a ticketing system that always came first, the website crashed on Saturday morning, but happy 2. 000 could look forward to their return.
An equipment battle meant Arsenal couldn’t play in their traditional red, so their blue away kit was worn to welcome the chosen bunch home.
Lacazette’s 30-yard hit got the ball rolling after just 10 minutes and Mari’s first Arsenal goal doubled the lead.
When Nketiah nodded in a third, there was a party atmosphere as the supporters started going through their song repertoire.
Vienna briefly threatened an unlikely comeback when Kitagawa returned home after two brave blocks from Sead Kolasinac initially kept visitors in check.
The three-goal pillow was restored when Smith Rowe finished a fine, flowing move just three minutes after replacing Lacazette.
Arteta used the last 20 minutes to welcome Calum Chambers back to the first team. The defender was sidelined almost a year earlier due to a serious knee injury.
Dani Ceballos almost added a fifth with a nice free kick. while his substitute colleague Willian drew a hit from a distance.
The result was already in the bag by this point, but no fans went home early when they stood up to applaud the Arsenal players from the field. Arteta also crossed the pitch to return the favor.
This weekend, Betfair gives you a € 10 free bet when you wager € 10 on a multi with the same game in the Premier League. Conditions: Min. £ 10 Match Multiple bet on any EPL game Friday through Sunday. Free bet valid for 72 hours, awarded when the bet is settled. Excludes paid bets. T&Cs apply.
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Arsenal F. . C.. . , UEFA Europa League, SK Rapid Vienna, Mikel Arteta, Emirates Stadium, Alexandre Lacazette
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