Hector Bellerin is delighted to see fans back in some Premier League stadiums ahead of Arsenal’s north London derby clash with Tottenham on Sunday.
The Spain international says there is nothing more sad for a footballer than playing in an empty stadium, and he believes having supporters gives an advantage to the home team.
On Thursday, Arsenal welcomed supporters back to the Emirates Stadium for the first time since March and put on a show with a 4-1 thrashing of Rapid Vienna in the Europa League.
“The fans give an advantage to the home team,” Bellerin told beIN SPORTS. “When you do get the win away it’s a completely different feeling, for different reasons.
“There’s no better feeling than being able to share the win at home with your fans.
“I’ve missed them so much. It’s so difficult for me when the game’s finished and I walk around the pitch. To thank the fans ... playing with an empty stadium, there’s nothing more sad than that for a football player.
“The synergy you get with them when you win, or you score a goal; 60,000 people unite on the same wavelength and we’re really missing that as players."
The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will be far from full on derby day, with only 2,000 supporters permitted into the 62,000-capacity arena, but it is a welcome step towards some semblance of normality in the English game.
Whatever the attendance, Bellerin is sure the fixture will live up to expectations.
“It doesn’t matter what stage of the season it is. It doesn’t matter whether you’re playing for something or not, it is always such a meaningful game.”
The right-back also recalled some of his favourite memories from the derby.
“There was a 4-1 or 4-2 at the Emirates … there was a 2-2 at White Hart Lane that, even though it wasn’t a win, I remember as a really tough game and entertaining.
“I’ve always enjoyed the pressure and the aggression of those games. I miss not being able to play with fans. They bring such an atmosphere to those kind of games. It’s not going to be the same.”