Arsene Wenger has explained why he believes English football will be ‘most handicapped’ by behind-closed-doors football as the Premier League prepares to restart.
England’s top tier will make its long-awaited return to action later this month, though continued health concerns dictate that no supporters will be allowed in stadiums for the remainder of the campaign at the very least.
Former Arsenal boss Wenger has been a keen observer as Germany’s Bundesliga made it’s behind-closed-doors return in recent weeks, believing a lack of atmosphere acts as a disadvantage to smaller sides when facing opposition of higher quality.
The Frenchman also believes that England will most feel the lack of supporters within stadiums ahead of the division’s highly-anticipated return, insisting the fans are what makes the Premier League so ‘special’.
“What makes it special in England is the way people react to the game,” Wenger told The Athletic. “It is the best country in the world for the way the fans respond to what’s happening on the pitch. That’s why I think it will be the most handicapped championship without that.
“You realise that football without fans is not real. You have two elements in football games: the players and the fans who go to the stadiums, and people who watch it on television. So you have divided the first section if the spectators have to stay at home. Only one part of the spectacle is the players. You realise how much you miss the other part.
“For the game itself, one of the first things I noticed is the lower teams without fans have a bigger handicap than the higher teams. In Germany, for example, you can see that in home games against bigger opponents, there is an element missing — that tension, that belief, that motivation that is coming from outside the pitch.
“You see that the internal motivation of the club is not big enough against the big clubs. The bigger teams have more quality, so a way to reduce the difference between the teams is, of course, to have the support of your fans and get that intensity into the game. Let’s not forget it influences the referee and the opposition team as well.”