Arteta: Return of fans for Spurs derby will be ‘extraordinary’


For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic shut fans out of football stadiums in March, they will return for selected Premier League games this week including champions Liverpool and Tottenham v Arsenal.

dpa/GNA – Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said it will be “extraordinary” when small sections of fans return to English football stadiums for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began in March.

However, only the clubs located in low level restriction tiers 1 and 2 will welcome 2,000 supporters such as London and Liverpool. Teams that are under the highest tier 3 level of restrictions in Manchester, the Midlands and the North will still complete games without fans.

Tottenham host Arsenal on Sunday in front of fans and Arteta hopes the sides can give the spectators a game to remember.

“It is going to be extraordinary to have them back, it will feel strange,” Arteta said.

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

Last weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Wolves confirmed 14th-placed Arsenal’s worst start to the season since 1981, but Arteta is not concerned about losing his job.

“I knew that one day I would be sacked or leave the football club but I don’t know when that is going to happen,” he said.

“In this profession, I know it will happen but I never worry about it.”

Arteta confirmed that they will check David Luiz is okay to play after a clash of heads with Raul Jimenez saw him suffer a nasty cut while Jimenez was sent to hospital for an emergency skull operation.

Spurs could be without Harry Kane after Jose Mourinho said the England striker had an injury on Wednesday but refused to specify the problem.

This weekend’s round was supposed to start on Friday with Aston Villa hosting Newcastle but the Magpies were forced to ask for a postponement after an outbreak of Covid-19 cases at Newcastle’s training ground.

On Saturday, Burnley welcome Everton and Fulham travel to Manchester City without supporters but the first game with fans will be West Ham’s visit from Manchester United.

David Moyes’ Hammers have risen to fifth in the table after Monday’s 2-1 win against Aston Villa and goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski said they cannot afford to drop their guard.

“We are fifth but it’s early, just ten games into the season, and you can see there are many teams actually up there. It’s good to be up there, but there is still a long way to go,” said the Poland keeper.

Chelsea will have the chance to finish Saturday at the top of the table after they host Leeds United in the late kick-off.

On Sunday Anfield will hear roars of supporters for the first time since a Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid last season when the Premier League champions play Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Manager Juergen Klopp has praised his side as “exceptional” after continuing to pick up points with a depleted squad.

The German boss has nine senior players missing through injury including number one goalkeeper Alisson after the Brazilian picked up a hamstring problem in the 1-1 draw against Brighton last weekend.

Instead of Spaniard Adrian, Klopp opted to use Irish academy product goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher in Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Ajax and he was satisfied with the 22-year-old’s display.

“I really think Adrian has done a fantastic job for us but we needed the natural football playing ability of Caoimhin Kelleher. He is a good shot-stopper as well,” Klopp explained.

“We made that decision but you never know how they are going to cope. I am really happy with how calm he was and how good he was.”

Also on Sunday, West Bromwich Albion host Crystal Palace and Leicester City travel to bottom club Sheffield United in empty stadiums before Brighton see the return of their fans on Monday night against Southampton.

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