Ahead of Arsenal’s match with Everton, supporters are expected to gather in large numbers outside Emirates Stadium to protest against the club’s owners.
The gathering comes at the end of a week when fans across the continent have voiced their collective anger at plans for a European Super League that was announced on Sunday and left in smithereens by Wednesday.
The Arsenal hierarchy apologised for their involvement on Tuesday evening via a statement on the club website and Josh Kroenke and CEO Vinai Venkatesham attended an online meeting of supporters groups yesterday where the grovelling continued.
Against the backdrop of all that, Mikel Arteta has been trying to prepare his players for a match that his side needs to win if they are to have any chance of qualifying for Europa via the league.
Facing the press on Thursday morning, he said he’s done his best to keep the first team focused on the challenge ahead.
“I am getting used to it, since I joined it has been a rollercoaster and more things have happened in those 18 months than probably in the last 20 years,” he said.
“Dealing with it, trying to maintain the unity and commitment of everybody, trying to be clear and transparent with the news that we have, and trying to move on.
“It’s been a really challenging week for everybody in world football but we have to move forward. There are a lot of lessons we can take from it and we have to learn and probably reflect and put football in a better position.”
Having been trailing Everton in the table for much of the season, a win tonight could see us climb above the Toffees into eighth place, albeit having played one game more. We’ll need to finish at least a place higher than that to secure a place in the Europa Conference League, which means also hunting down one of Liverpool and Spurs.
On tonight’s opponents, Arteta said: “They are having a really good season, we are not getting the results that we want against Fulham where the result was disappointing apart from the performance, which in my opinion we totally deserved to win the game.
But we need to win every game now in the Premier League to give us the best possible chance to be in Europe next season through that competition.”
He added: “Yes, I think we do [have momentum], and the way we are playing as well. But the Fulham game, not winning that one was a real shame for us because that would have put us in a much better position. But we have to move on, we still have a lot to play for in the league and playing the semi-final of the Europa League so we are all excited about the way we can finish this season.”
Arsenal will be without a number of key players this evening. Strikers Alex Lacazette (hamstring), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (malaria), Kieran Tierney (knee) and David Luiz (knee) are sidelined and Martin Odegaard (ankle) is a big doubt.