Arsenal put on a show to welcome fans back by thumping Rapid Vienna at Emirates Stadium

Simon Collings
·3-min read
<p>Cheer: Arsenal were in the mood in front of spectators</p> (REUTERS)

Cheer: Arsenal were in the mood in front of spectators

(REUTERS)

So, in the end, it was worth the wait.

Arsenal fans have had to wait over eight long months to see their team in action at Emirates Stadium due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Just 2,000 of them were allowed back in on Thursday night for this match with Rapid Vienna and Mikel Arteta’s side duly put on a show.

The opposition were hardly much competition. In fact it reminded you of when a boxer picks an easy opponent for a comeback fight after a long time out of the ring.

Vienna were there to be picked off, but Arsenal did so in a clinical fashion that will have sent fans home with a smile on their faces.

In fairness supporters arrived in the same mood they left as they finally got the chance to comeback to Emirates Stadium, with stewards clapping them through the turnstiles

Getty Images
Getty Images

Before the players had come out of the tunnel the usual chants were in full swing again, with anti-Tottenham songs belted out with typical gusto.

Perhaps it is because they had been away for so long, but the 2,000 in here certainly made a decent racket. It was enough to get the hairs on your neck standing up again and reminded us that football really is nothing without the supporters.

There was even a banner - one calling for Mesut Ozil to return - that made sure we realised Arsenal fans are most definitely back.

Whether it was subconscious or not, the players seemed boosted by supporters being back in the ground. They went and applauded them before kick-off and not long after it was fans returning the favour as Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring.

Fittingly, Lacazette was the last Arsenal player to score in front of supporters, when he bagged the winner against West Ham in March, and he got the first upon their return.

REUTERS
REUTERS

The one against West Ham was a tap in from a few yards, but this was one in the 10th minute was from all of 30. It dipped and swerved on its way in and got fans off their seats, even if goalkeeper Richard Strebinger’s positioning was suspect.

Eight minutes later it was 2-0 as Pablo Mari marked his first appearance since June with a goal by flicking home a header from a corner.

From there Arsenal cruised to half-time, keeping the ball with ease and opening up Vienna when they wanted.

Nicolas Pepe and Reiss Nelson were particularly impressive, skipping past their full-backs at will and throwing in the odd nutmeg for good measure.

Unsurprisingly it was those two who combined for Arsenal’s third just before half-time, with Eddie Nketiah finishing of another flowing move.

AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images

The question fans were now asking was, how many? But after the break Vienna silenced the Emirates for the first time.

Sead Kolasinac twice blocked efforts off the line, but in the end Koya Kitagawa fired the ball past Alex Runarsson.

There was, though, no Vienna comeback and Arsenal soon wrestled back control of proceedings. Pepe, as he had been all night, was at the heart of it and he started the move for the Gunners’ fourth - which was finished off when Ainsley Maitland-Niles cut it back for substitute Emile Smith Rowe.

That perked the fans up again, as did the sight of seeing Calum Chambers come on for his first appearance of 2020 following a serious knee injury in December of last year.

The centre-back got to play the final 20 minutes as Arsenal strolled their way to victory on a night when fans reminded us why we have missed them so much.