Since taking over as the main man in the Arsenal dugout, Mikel Arteta has spoken regularly about the importance of building a connection with the fans.
He was therefore delighted to hear a supporters group, known as the Ashburton Army, have taken it upon themselves to plan a special ‘tifo’ display to greet the players ahead of today’s kick off with Manchester United.
Derived from the Italian word for typhus fever, which can cause an outbreak of delirium, tifos are a choreographed display of flags, signs and banners that have grown to become a regular feature at matches on the continent and north of the border. They range in scale, involving entire stands to small sections of a crowd.
In this instance, the Ashburton Army – mostly made up of fans under the age of 25 who sit in the Clock End lower tier – gained permission from the club after funding the display of foils out of their own pocket.
Plans for next Saturday’s Tifo Display pic.twitter.com/MYZOsyqj4B
— AA (@AshburtonArmy) April 18, 2022
They announced their plans on social media earlier in the week urging anyone in Block 25 at Emirates Stadium to get to their seats 10 minutes before the players take to the pitch.
Asked about the display, Arteta said on Friday: “I am really pleased to hear all of those things because that initiative means that they are really engaged with the team and they want to show them they are with the team, that they want to participate and they feel like they are really participating in the success of the team.
“I’ve always said that if make this stadium a fortress it will be really difficult not to be successful. They have a big big part to play and hopefully tomorrow they can help us do that.”
In the aftermath of Wednesday’s win over Chelsea, Arteta issued a rallying call to supporters attending today’s match calling for a ‘really noisy’ atmosphere. He knows his players need all the backing they can get given the lack of recovery time.
In midweek, Manchester United failed to deal with Liverpool’s high-octane start at Anfield and quickly found themselves dead and buried on their way to a 4-0 defeat.
Arteta said the Reds’ style of play is a blueprint for his players to follow.
“I don’t see the game played in any other way,” he said.
“It’s that we are dominant, that we are playing as much as possible in the opponent’s half, that we are aggressive, that we want to regain the ball as quick as possible, that when the ball is over us I want to see everybody sprinting back,” added the Spaniard.
“To do that you have to be really fit. Your lifestyle is key. Your natural qualities and what you can deliver physically become really important. Because now we are doing it once a week but hopefully we will be required to do it three times a week [next season].”