Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal fans are the soul of the club as the Premier League side seek to rebuild relationships in the aftermath of the European Super League debacle.
Arsenal were one of six English top-flight teams to sign up to the doomed breakaway project, hastily withdrawing alongside all their Premier League counterparts on Tuesday amid a backlash from fans, players, football authorities and even national governments.
Chief executive Vinai Venkatesham and director Josh Kroenke received a severe grilling when attempting to apologise to an Arsenal fans forum this week and protests outside Emirates Stadium are expected to precede Friday’s game against Everton.
Arteta, a popular figure during his playing days with the Gunners, insists the fans have the respect of himself and his players after making their voices heard during a tumultuous episode.
“We want to listen to them, we totally respect them. They’ve been loud and clear and they’ve been heard,” he said.
“They’re going to be heard all the time because they are the soul of this football club and the soul of this industry.
“We’re going to try to do the best we can to make them proud all the time and make their lives better by playing the way we want to play, winning football matches and trophies.
“That’s our responsibility. If they can help in any way it is by giving support to the team because that is going to have an immense effect. It is so powerful and they have to realise that.”
Training to face the Toffees
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) April 22, 2021
If anything, the spectacle of fans congregating outside stadia makes Arteta pine for a return to pre-pandemic normality, describing football behind closed doors as a “different sport”.
“I want fans, I want to have that feeling that we are competing and have feeling behind us,” he added.
“If not, it is a different sport. Let’s get back to where we were before the pandemic and enjoy football in a different way.”
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