Lionel Cironneau Nice fans sing the France anthem "La Marseillaise" at a game last night.
# Solidarity
The Premier League will adopt La Marseillaise in Paris tribute today
The anthem is to be played again before each of this weekend’s 10 games.

‘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 have left 130 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.

Among the French contingent in the Premier League are Arsenal duo Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud, who were playing for their country at the time of last week’s atrocities.

Wenger said defender Koscielny, in particular, appeared affected and would need to be assessed before playing this weekend.

“I will look how deeply they are affected,” he said. “Sometimes it hits you more two or three days later than on the night.”

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”.

- Striking worries -

Louis van Gaal, whose Manchester United side go to Watford in the first game of the weekend on Saturday lunchtime, applauded football’s response to the events.

“We can give support in symbols which is a nice thing for the French people, for the victims and the relatives of the victims,” he said.

“I think it can give them force and strength to survive.”

On the field, United have striking worries for the game at Vicarage Road, with Anthony Martial, who played for France against Germany and England, injured and Wayne Rooney ill.

The weekend’s stand-out fixture is Liverpool’s meeting with joint-leaders City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

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.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will be back in the dug-out for his side’s home game with Norwich City, having been banned from the stadium as the champions crashed 1-0 at Stoke City on their previous outing.

Chelsea go into the weekend just three points above the relegation zone in 16th place and Mourinho, boosted by the trust shown in him by owner Roman Abramovich, is eager for his team to perform.

“There is trust. And there are reasons for that trust. But, obviously, the power in the end is with the owner and the board, and I think the same way they show to me and the players that they trust us, I think it’s time also for us to give a positive answer,” he said.

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.

- © AFP, 2015

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