Mikel Arteta‘s first game in charge of Arsenal was a fairly uninspiring 1-1 draw away at Bournemouth on Boxing Day.
That said, the new Arsenal boss was happy with the support his players received from the away section and believes rebuilding that relationship between fans and players is key.
Speaking ahead of Arsenal’s clash against London rivals Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday (Watch live, 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) Arteta has urged for togetherness.
“I was really pleased with how the fans treated the players [at Bournemouth],” Arteta said. “I was happy that the players went to see the fans after the game as well because we need that connection. Slowly we need to build that back to where it was because it’s going to be very powerful for us to use that.”
That fractured relationship dates back to the final few seasons of Arsene Wenger‘s reign at Arsenal and anger from the stands reared its ugly head throughout Unai Emery‘s 18-month spell in charge of the Gunners.
Arteta was keen to remind his players that their duty is to play for the fans in the stands and try to bring more enjoyment to the life of every Gunners supporter around the world.
“We play for them [the fans]. At the end of the day, they’re expecting a lot from us. We have to give them enjoyment, we have to make their lives better and when we win, they will be better because they will be happier. It’s our responsibility and we have to do everything we can to achieve that,” Arteta said. “First, I think I need the players and if I can convince the players, afterwards we can convince the fans. I think it’s a very, very important part of my job. Energy is everything, in life, in football and in sports. If we are able to generate this, it will give us a lift.”
Powerful stuff from the former Arsenal captain who has certainly impressed with his media appearances during his first week as a head coach.
With a run of games coming up against Chelsea (twice), Leeds in the FA Cup and then Man United, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United who all sit close to them in the table, Arteta needs to hit the ground running and he needs the help of Arsenal’s fans to drag the team through to give themselves a chance of finishing in the top four, as somehow they are only eight points off the Champions League places.