Mikel Arteta insists the Europa League should not be treated as a distraction and is looking forward to a big atmosphere when Emirates Stadium hosts its first European knockout game in front of a capacity crowd since the 2-1 defeat to Olympiakos in February 2020.
While 2,000 supporters were invited to watch a group stage win over Rapid Vienna the following season, by the time the competition reached the business end of proceedings, the UK was again under lockdown and a limp semi-final defeat was played against the backdrop of empty terraces.
A subsequent failure to qualify for Europe meant last season was the first in 26 years without continental action in N5. As a result, Arteta is determined to make the most of tonight’s occasion.
“We haven’t had big European nights for three years due to COVID especially,” he told his pre-game press conference.
“It is probably the first one that we’ve had for a while and hopefully, we’ll build a really good atmosphere and enjoy it. Our supporters will be there against a really good team that is going to put a big challenge in front of us.”
If Arsenal do qualify for the quarter-finals, the two legs of the tie will slot in between away trips to Liverpool and West Ham and a home game with Southampton. In total, we’d be facing six games in 18 days in April, including a match away at title rivals Manchester City.
That schedule has some fans worried about whether Arsenal have the necessary squad depth to challenge for honours on two fronts. As always, Arteta plans to take the challenges as they come.
He added: “We’re looking to win. That was the same when we were in Lisbon, but we’re gonna have to do better than we did in Lisbon to win against Sporting tomorrow.”
Arteta wasn’t best pleased with some of the lackadaisical defending during the 2-2 draw at the Estadio Jose Alvalade but got a very promising response when a stronger side swatted away Fulham 3-0 on Sunday.
“It was a big difference,” he agreed. “The desire to win the ball back, the aggression that we showed, and how we defended the boxes. That’s something we’re gonna have to show tomorrow against a top-quality side. They punish you the moment you give them some space and so, tomorrow that cannot be the case.”
With 11 games to go in the Premier League and potentially six matches in the Europa League, the boss knows he’s going to need top-level performances from everyone he calls upon. For much of the season, he’s relied on a stable core of players to start games but as fatigue starts to kick in, opportunities will arise for others to make their mark. Even those who’ve spent long stretches on the bench.
Trying to ensure that everybody around the first team feels they have a role to play, he’s even rebranded the notion of being a substitute. Borrowing from rugby coach Eddie Jones, who used to call his replacements “finishers”, Arteta says he and his staff now refer to those on the bench as “impacters”.
“It’s something that we wanted to change and I discussed it with a few people and we wanted to find something that is particular for us,” he said.
“I think it was the best way to express how we feel about them and how they have to feel towards the team, especially on match day.
“I think it’s very difficult [to measure the difference it makes]. I think it is replacing somebody and making the team better, or doing things differently that are related to winning football matches and at the end your mentality should be only that, to impact the game to win it. That’s it, nothing else.
“I cannot measure that [difference]. I have to get into their brains, so far we don’t have anything like it.
“I think the way we describe it is more like we want it. If you repeat it more and more and more and you discuss it more and more and more, it will be closer to that and just being a sub.”
Looking forward to positive impacters on the pitch, our bench is looking great at the moment.
And we never get injuries (per Ten Hag) so don’t have to worry about them…
But in the real world I’d happily give up the EL if it helped us win the PL.
Love that. Honestly I don’t get the dismissal of the Europa league by fans, firstly it would be an awesome double if we can manage it (and I think we can) but secondly there’s something to be said for staying in two competitions now that we’re out of the domestic cups, and not putting all your eggs in one basket. If we get knocked out of the EL I fear that might breed a type of emotional desperation to win the Premier League that sometimes can do more harm than good. You want the players to really want to win… Read more »
Rubbish. The Europa League absolutely IS a distraction. It saps the energy that is vital for the all-important Premier League matches. And the major danger is that one of our key players could pick up a serious injury that could cause him to miss PL games. It’s been almost 20 years since we last won the title and we may never get an opportunity like this to win it again. Everything must be concentrated on winning the Title. Let the stiffs try to win the EL. The Champions League is a different matter: it’s the most important domestic trophy in… Read more »
Shocking that you have posted another negative fear based analysis. Glad we have a manager that understands how to build a positive conquering winning mentality. Winning begets winning.
I agree with Ebo, we have all it takes to compete in the front. Injuries can creep in if we have to play only 11 games (with bad luck). We can play the remaining 17 games without injuries and with good squad management (rotation), which is what we have done so far.
Truly, the injury gods has/will favor (Ed) us this season.
Playing and winning gives you confidence for the next match.
Let’s beat (face) Sporting first, then we can concentrate on Palace and so on…
I mostly agree.
I think we all agree that the priority is winning Champions, (that’s next year’s headache) Premier League and Europa League.
I am not so worried about fatigue, we have some depth and a healthy rotation of players will help the group to grow stroner.
With Jesus back in the fold, the main risk is picking up a stupid injury to a key player.
Is it possible for you to not be insulting to a fellow supporter when disagreeing?
I agree with Ebo. Not only do I want to sign off from the EL with a victory, and a long-awaited European success, this team also needs to keep playing and winning. You can’t exchange one thing for another.
Remember all those Spring collapses in past years where our trophy challenges would all drop like dominoes in the space of a couple of weeks?
No thanks! Winning mentality is everything now.
Your spot on Ebo
I’ll be watching closely if the club switches from ‘subs’ to ‘impacters’ in the official graphic when announcing the squad tonight haha. Would be great touch.
The FA would ban us from football for the next 1000000000000 years for that.
I wanted to object that Europe League doesn’t fall under FA’s jurisdiction but that would be just naive from me.
Haha, the FA would find a way.
They are very creative when it comes to punishing the Arsenal.
Yeah, luckily that competition is governed by UEFA, so everything will be great.
“Impacters” — Nelson did come on took that title personally, recently.
He (Nelson) was the first in my mind when I read the word “impacters”. Remember Jorginho and Trossard. Nelli when he came in as sub against Villa. Emile, white to mention a few.
If Wenger is the professor of Economics, Arteta is that of Psychology.😀
And a bit of politics as that’s just a spin 🙂
His player management has been top notch this season.
Sounds like we need a documentary…. “The Impacters”
Was supposed to go tonight but train strikes have scuppered my travel plans. I can get to the game alright but looks like there’s no trains out of central London to South East London after 6pm. Anticipating a slightly emptier stadium than usual.
Get a lime bike back or sell me your ticket!
This is the season we build our mental resilience to challenge for future titles. For the good of the evolution of the team, they must fight for both PL and UEL. I believe in the lads. COYG
I’d like to see kiwor start tonight . Otherwise be big knock to his confidence , likewise Matt Turner (almost had typed Ryan) needs a big game . Nelson Jesus and ESR probably would start this game in two weeks time but probably too soon so imagine Saka starts instead of one of the Hale Boyz. Shame we have a bit more depth in the 8 role as running a risk with Xhaka . Watched Sambi against City and he was as he was here pedestrian enough I’d hoped to see him get stuck in and prove us wrong but… Read more »
I thought he looked very good against Brighton (a somewhat fairer test, I think, than City). But I agree that he will probably not develop into what we need in a young(ish) player–someone who can become a legitimate long-term successor for Partey.
If we don’t want current form to a temporary flash in the pan then this squad and these boys are going to have to get used to playing this amount of games. EL isn’t a distraction but opportunity to learn and adapt.
Next season I hope we’re progressing to latter stages of CL and also competing for PL right up until the end of the season.
What happens now prepares them for that. We could win nothing this season but lessons would be learnt and the demands understood.
I suspect MA will use a stronger selection, than this but I would start
Tomy, Holding, Kiwior, Tierni,
Jorghino, Nelson, Vieira, ESR.
then we need to risk two out of Odegaard, Martinelli, Saka, Trossard, Jesus
I think he has to go strong. If we had won the first leg he could rotate more.
If you want evidence that the BBC coverage of football is all about bun kissing ManUre then the waffle about their game, with a brief mention about arsenal, is a joke
Gave up listening to their podcasts a while ago. Would talk about literally anything rather than Arsenal games.
speaking about telly, is sunday game on any tv package in the UK?