Mikel Arteta hopes Arsenal fans will cheer players into stadium ahead of Europa League semi-final

Supporters are expected to gather in protest against the club’s owner Stan Kroenke

Tom Kershaw@trlkershaw
Wednesday 05 May 2021 12:42
Mikel Arteta hopes Arsenal fans will get behind the team
Mikel Arteta hopes Arsenal fans will get behind the team

Mikel Arteta hopes Arsenal fans will give the team’s coach a rousing reception when it arrives at the Emirates Stadium ahead of the club’s Europa League semi-final second leg against Villarreal.

Arsenal supporters are expected to gather in protest against owner Stan Kroenke ahead of the crucial European tie, with the Gunners trailing 2-1 after a poor first leg performance in Spain.

Arteta said he understood the fans’ right to express their beliefs but hopes they will also get behind the team, with victory in the Europa League now the only way the club can secure European football for next season.

Asked if he hopes the players will be cheered into the ground, Arteta said: “I think that would be great. We’ve been missing them (fans) so much. We need them and for the players and the team to feel that they are right behind them supporting them. I think it is the 10th time the club has played a European semi-final, so it’s a big moment for us so hopefully we can have them closer than we have already in the last few months.

“I think that (the fans) have to be able to express themselves. If it is done in a specific way they have the right to do it. I know that the only purpose of the fans is to defend the club and they want the best for the team and we will try to do the same.”

Arsenal have a number of lingering injury concerns, with Alexandre Lacazette, David Luiz and Kieran Tierney all doubts ahead of the second leg, while speculation over Daniel Ek’s potential takeover continues to rumble in the background.

If his squad are successful in overturning the deficit and reach the final, Arteta believes it will be the “biggest step forward” of his tumultuous tenure so far.

“Well it’s a big moment,” he admitted. “Again, not for me but for the club for everything that has happened in the last two years, in the last months. All the instability that we’ve been here with for many different reasons. So, I think it will be really important and our biggest step forward if we are able to be in that final and have the opportunity to win that trophy.”

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