As the coronavirus (COVID-19) began to spread around the world, we braced for what would become a historic period for the planet’s population. A new virus that was impacting people across continents and quickly spreading, silently before most knew it, and setting up a battle that we as a modern society had yet to face.
Football was not a primary concern - at least for the majority of people. As a collective, we struggled with response plans and times, resources - both in hospitals and homes, the oncoming isolation that the virus would require and how to adjust work-life, school, travel and so much more. The fact that the Premier League would halt, that Arsenal wouldn’t be on the next weekend, was only something that we in this corner of society concerned ourselves with.
But now that it has been gone for nearly two months. And with no return in sight, how might our views towards our club, a league, a national team or the game in general change when it does resume action?
On March 7th, 2020 Arsenal defeated West Ham 1-0, but at the time we weren’t aware that it was the last game for the Gunners. The rampant spread made it seem as though the league might not finish, but as the days ahead would show - all sports, and most of life would suddenly halt - as we refocused on battling the virus.
The Premier League still claims that the 2019-20 season will be completed. And Project Restart continues to push towards finding a solution that could see 92 league matches crammed into a short window, at a neutral site, with minimal, but allowed resources. It’s a fairy tale and it shouldn’t be a priority at the moment.
Eventually the Premier League will follow suit, as will most leagues, and UEFA, in seeing that this season is over. Unless they want to wait until the fall to conclude the 2019-20 campaigns and thus impact the calendar for the following season immediately. And even so, the return of soccer will be without fans. Whether that be in June or the fall.
Whenever the Premier League returns and Arsenal are back to playing in the Emirates, will your view the game, the club and/or the players have been altered during the break? This is far from a normal summer break in which we have heightened interest in the transfer market and preseason friendlies, building anticipation for the start of a new season.
Instead we will have all spent months without soccer - without Arsenal - focusing on work, family, health, etc. Filling our days with new hobbies, endless Zoom calls, adapting to becoming a teach-from-home-parent, catching up on house projects, or countless other activities. So what has - and will - this hiatus do to your perception of it all?
With no games to schedule your weekends around, how will it be adjusting back to planning for an Arsenal match? Or chunks of your weekend for the Premier League, other soccer leagues, and sports in general? Will your view of what Arsenal means in your life have changed? How about what you think Arsenal ‘need’ to be or ‘should’ be? In this new world, will you be more willing to forgive mistakes or bad performances by Arsenal players?
We don’t know when we will get the Gunners back, or how, but surely life will not return to the way it was pre-COVID-19. For me, I haven’t had much time to miss soccer in a specific sense, in regards to scheduling my weekends around it or nights for MLS/USL. I’ve continued to listen my favorite soccer podcasts and watched a few soccer docuseries (Sunderland and Leeds thus far) as I find time.
In the general sense I miss soccer and I miss watching Arsenal, but for now I don’t need it back. In due time, it’ll return, I’ll appreciate it even more than before, enjoy the Saturday 10 am matches away at Brighton a bit more, and go a bit easier before I criticize players. Debate the best XI - yes, a potential transfer - always, but get worked up about a Mustafi mistake or a poor decision by the manager - less unlikely.
Tell us how things have changed for you so far and how you think they may change whenever the action returns.