Mikel Arteta has revealed that the Arsenal players were the driving force behind yesterday’s show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matters movement.
Ahead of the friendly with Brentford at the Emirates, the squad warmed up in t-shirts featuring slogans including “I can’t breathe”, “Silence is violence” and “Colour is not a crime”.
Before kick-off players and staff took a knee, a symbolic stance, made famous by NFL star Colin Kaepernick, that has become synonymous with anti-racism.
“The thing that I liked most is that it came from them [the players],” Arteta told Sky Sports.
“I got a phone call from the captains asking for permission to do that.
“I spoke with the club straight away and they were very clear that they wanted to support the first team’s intentions. Everybody collaborated yesterday and we created the shirts.
“I think it was a really strong message and it was powerful because it comes from them. They were the ones who felt they had to support these causes.”
Earlier this week the New York Times journalist Rory Smith reported that captains from a number of clubs had been in discussion with the Premier League about showing their support for the movement prior to kick-off of games next week.
Arteta was also asked about Arsenal’s preparations for Wednesday’s game with Manchester City. Despite the 3-2 defeat to Brentford, the boss struck an optimistic tone.
“They are going well, very different to our usual preparations,” he said. “We’re getting all our protocols right, the players are getting used to it. It’s been a challenge for the coaches, but we’re happy with how it’s going.
“We’ve been trying different things, we’ve been giving minutes in the legs to all the players, you have to change a lot of players as well through the game. Getting adapted to playing in an empty stadium and not having that energy from the fans … but it was good.
“We played two friendlies to get some rhythm, we hadn’t played in a while and we wanted to try and make it as possible to a real game.”
“Obviously, I know everybody there, I spent four magnificent years with those players, the staff and the club.
“I’m really excited as well, I can’t wait to be back and competing and doing what we love most which is to play football.