Mikel Arteta wants to bring joy to Arsenal fans
Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal’s players and staff have a duty to improve the lives of the club’s disillusioned supporters.
New Gunners head coach Arteta arrived in north London amid growing unrest among a frustrated fanbase which had witnessed just one win from 13 games in all competitions.
The Spaniard joined his team on the pitch to thank travelling fans after that run stretched to 14 matches following the 1-1 Boxing Day draw at Bournemouth on his managerial debut.
Arteta’s first match at the Emirates Stadium is a London derby against Chelsea on Sunday and he is eager to build bridges and restore pride and positivity to the terraces.
“I was really pleased with how the fans treated the players (at Bournemouth) and I was happy that the players went to see the fans after the game as well because we need that connection,” said Arteta.
“Slowly we need to build that back to where it was because it’s going to be very powerful for us to use that.
“We play for them. 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, who played for the Gunners between 2011 and 2016, was given first-hand experience of the negative atmosphere around the club less than a fortnight ago.
The former Manchester City assistant coach was in the opposition dugout when Arsenal were beaten 3-0 by Pep Guardiola’s side on December 15 in their previous home game.
While he admits appeasing supporters is a major priority, the 37-year-old thinks persuading Arsenal’s squad to trust his methods is a more pressing objective.
“First I think I need the players and if I can convince the players, afterwards we can convince the fans,” he said.
“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.
“I want to review the (Bournemouth) game, go through the individual and collective issues that we had, the positives and negatives to try to convince them that if they do more of this then they will be more comfortable in the game.
“Then we’ll be closer to winning football games.”
Arsenal last won a Premier League match on home soil on October 6.
Since a narrow 1-0 success over Bournemouth, which proved to be Unai Emery’s final top-flight victory as Gunners manager, they have been held to draws by Crystal Palace, Wolves and Southampton and lost to Brighton and champions City.
Weekend opponents Chelsea make the short trip across the capital with troubling home form of their own.
Frank Lampard’s Blues have been beaten at Stamford Bridge without scoring by struggling sides West Ham, Bournemouth and Southampton during the past month.
Despite those poor results, Arteta expects a tough encounter.
“I know they lost at home again but they are a terrific team, so it will be a really good test for us,” he said.