Mikel Arteta paid homage to Arsenal’s travelling fans for energising his side as they claimed a backs-to-the-wall 0-0 draw against Liverpool despite Granit Xhaka’s first half red card.
While the Carabao Cup semi-final remains in the balance, the Spaniard is hoping next Thursday’s match will be played in front of a partisan crowd who can help carry the Gunners to February’s final.
“We’ve played to half time, probably even less than that,” reflected the boss in his post-game press conference.
“We need another game. It’s an extraordinary opponent, we got a result that in the circumstances we have to consider positive. We’re going to need everybody back and we’re going to need to create a great atmosphere at the Emirates.
“The fans that travelled today made an incredible noise and gave us incredible energy and put a real game there to try and get into a final.”
Having been frustrated with the way his players performed at Nottingham Forest on Sunday, there were only warm words for their efforts on this occasion.
“I’m extremely proud of what the boys did today in an extremely difficult stadium against a great opponent, and playing 70 minutes with 10 men,” he said.
“It was about fight, spirit, commitment and as well the quality that they showed to play a game that is not in our strength and not in what we trained, but it was necessary to win. I want to see a team that plays with emotion and transmits everything that we talked about every day and I’ve seen that today, so I’m very happy.”
Before playing Liverpool again, Arsenal have the small matter of a north London derby against Sp*rs.
Having left players at home due to injury and Covid, and with four first team members at the African Cup of Nations, the last thing Arteta needed was the loss of more personnel
In addition to Xhaka’s suspension, it looks like Cedric will be unavailable – the Portuguese full-back was substituted early on with a hip problem – while Bukayo Saka and Calum Chambers both struggled in the closing stages.
Asked whether there was a risk of the game being called off, Arteta said: “I don’t know. It’s a possibility in any game from our side, from the opponents’ side, because of the amount of issues that everybody is having and because it’s happening every week, but we try to prepare for the games thinking that we’re going to play. If something happens along the way, it is what it is.”
On Saka’s fitness, he added: “He felt something in the last minute, he was really fatigued and I don’t know. He’s a young boy and he recovers pretty quickly, he’s played a lot of minutes in the last months, so let’s see who’s available.”