With talk of further fan protests ahead of Thursday’s Europa League semi-final second leg against Villarreal, Mikel Arteta insists that his team cannot use those as an excuse, but admitted if there was a welcome for the players it would be a positive.
Once again backing the supporters’ right to freely express their opinion, the Arsenal boss was hopeful that amid the opposition to KSE there might be an outpouring of support as the team arrives at the Emirates.
It was put to Arteta that some fans are suggesting protests tomorrow should be shelved in case it creates a negative atmosphere, to which he said, “I think they have to be able to express themselves.
“If it is done in a pacific (peaceful) way, they have the right do it. We will try to prepare for the game in the best possible way, and I wouldn’t like to use any excuses if something happened with that.
“I know that the only purpose of the fans is to defend the club because they want the best for the team, and we will try to do the same.”
Arteta was then asked if it would give the players a lift if they were cheered on arrival, and continued, “I think that would be great!
“We’ve been missing them so much and we need them. If the players and the team feel they [fans] are right behind them and supporting them … again it’s the 10th time this club is playing a European semi-final … so it’s a big moment for us, so hopefully we can have them closer to use than we have in the last few months.”
There were no team news or injury updates in the press conference, with further assessment of those potentially involved to made after this morning’s training session.