Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and defender Calum Chambers are doing their best to help the Gunners prepare for a big Friday clash with Everton as protests from outside the Emirates Stadium are audible from inside the walls of the empty building.
Fans are asking for owner Stan Kroenke to sell the team in the wake of European Super League fallout. The Gunners apologized profusely for a “mistake” in considering the ESL, but it has not done a lot to calm angry supporters.
Hundreds were outside the venue on Friday ahead of a 3pm ET kickoff in North London.
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The Gunners were already put off their normal schedule as they were forced to arrive early in order to avoid the crowds and potential incidents with them. Calum Chambers admitted that that’s a challenge but maintained that Arsenal would keep the match in focus.
Arteta expectes his men to perform, but also acknowledged the distraction.
“It doesn’t help to have your own fans try and stand out on a match day and say loud and clear they are not happy with something,” Arteta said. “Win the game and everything is better, that’s how we can contribute.”
“I will try to prepare the team in the best possible way so that isn’t the case. We know that we might have a situation outside the stadium because our fans want to express their feelings, and our job is to try to make the team as focused as possible just to perform on the pitch.”
Arsenal is bidding to keep its slim European hopes alive by pulling level on points with eighth-place Everton, who has a match-in-hand. The Gunners are just as close to the bottom half and their best route to Europe may be winning the Europa League, where a win over Villarreal in the semifinals means a test versus AS Roma or Manchester United for the right to qualify for the Champions League,