English Premier League to adopt 'La Marseillaise' this weekend in show of unity
French national anthem will be played across England's top flight his weekend
‘La Marseillaise’ will drift out across Premier League stadiums this weekend as English football continues its show of solidarity with France over last week’s devastating terror attacks in Paris.
Fans of France and England united for a moving rendition of the French national anthem prior to Tuesday’s Wembley friendly and the rousing battle hymn is to be played again before each of this weekend’s 10 games.
With the English top flight’s French contingent - 72 players and two managers - still reeling from the shock of the attacks, which left 129 people dead and over 350 injured, it is a move that has been widely welcomed.
“I think it’s a nice gesture of solidarity,” said Arsenal’s French manager Arsene Wenger, whose side, co-leaders with Manchester City, visit West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
“It’s not an obvious one for the fans, just like it would not be an obvious one for fans in France to sing ‘God Save the Queen’, because they don’t know the words. Symbolically it’s a very nice gesture.”
Everton manager Roberto Martinez, whose team host Frenchman Remi Garde’s Aston Villa, said: “I think we all experienced the feelings surrounding the game between England and France on Tuesday.
“It was a fantastic vehicle for showing solidarity and what the game of football can do, and I think this weekend would be exactly the same.”
With the Paris attacks having started outside the Stade de France during France’s friendly with Germany, where three suicide bombers blew themselves up, security concerns are at the top of the agenda.
The Premier League gave safety briefings to all 20 clubs on Thursday and supporters have been advised to arrive at grounds earlier than usual due to the extra security checks that are scheduled to be carried out.
But there has been no change to the United Kingdom’s terror threat level of ‘severe’ and Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore reassured fans that the football authorities remained on “high alert”.
On the pitch, the weekend’s stand-out fixture is Liverpool’s meeting with joint-leaders City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
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Liverpool went six games unbeaten following Jurgen Klopp’s appointment as manager, but fell to a 2-1 home defeat against Crystal Palace prior to the international break that left them in 10th place.
City remained top of the table after a 0-0 draw at Aston Villa, but their lead over Arsenal has been whittled down to goal difference.
Both sides could welcome back their key strikers, with City talisman Sergio Aguero and Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge both in contention after absences of seven weeks with hamstring and knee injuries respectively.
Klopp has revealed that he has spoken to midfielder and compatriot Emre Can, who was caught up in the terror at the Stade de France while on international duty with Germany.
“We spoke about this, but like everyone, not in a special way,” said Klopp. “He is a young lad who was in a very difficult situation. Like all of us it is difficult to understand or to change.”
Third-place Leicester City, meanwhile, are sweating on the availability of Jamie Vardy ahead of their trip to fourth-bottom Newcastle United.
The league’s top scorer with 12 goals, Vardy needs to score to equal Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of netting in 10 consecutive Premier League matches, but he faces a late fitness test on a hip injury.
“If he is fit, he plays, because every time he wants to play,” said Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri. “I hope he is available.”