This weekend saw the return of the Premier League. There were goals galore in what turned out to be an enthralling first round of fixtures in the English top-flight. One notable difference from last season is that most of the stadiums were full of fans. It was an emotional return to stadiums after more than 18 months away from their clubs’ grounds for most supporters.
Fans affected home wins this weekend
Last season played out in front of mostly empty stadiums was a tough one for fans. It seems it was a tough one for players too, as many have shown emotion during goal celebrations and after on social media.
The lack of fans had a big effect on how many teams struggled on home soil. Both Merseyside teams, Everton and Liverpool suffered from a lack of home fans. However, the Toffees seem to thrive on their home support in a 3-1 opening weekend over Southampton. Fans at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the King Power Stadium and the Brentford Community Stadium were all in good voice, inspiring their teams to victories on home soil.
The teams may have recorded victories anyway. However, Everton’s and Liverpool’s home records last season were certainly not the norm. Liverpool went from invincible at home to useless, as they went through a nightmare spell at the beginning of the year. The Reds recorded a 3-0 win at Norwich, so have yet to play at Anfield this season. When they do it should give the team that extra motivation.
That extra motivation and inspiration provided by the fans can sometimes bridge gaps in quality between teams and create unexpected results.
Things returned to close to normal
The lack of fans made Premier League football a slightly eerie experience. Watching on television you could hear everything from the sidelines to the players anguished screams when they were shot by that famous sniper that tends to occupy every football ground in the world.
This weekend brought football back to close to normality in England and many other European countries when it comes to atmosphere. No more sanitised piped in crowds on television, but proper football fans expressing the emotions that make football the experience it is. The banter between two sets of fans also returned, which also adds so much to the beautiful game.
Barring any returns of lockdowns in the UK, football fans will get to go to their clubs’ stadiums and watch the players they idolise perform. For most, there are not many better feelings than the matchday experience. Whether that’s the trip to the same pub, the walk to the ground or talking to the people you sit next to, but never learn their name. It can be a special experience and everybody at Soccertimes is delighted about the return of the fans to Premier League stadiums. Long may it continue too.
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Were you one of the fans returning to a Premier League stadium at the weekend?