Mikel Arteta has called on Arsenal supporters to generate a big atmosphere from the first whistle on Sunday as the club gears up for a pivotal top-of-the-table clash with Liverpool at Emirates Stadium.
While the manager admits that his players need to give the crowd something to cheer, he insists big occasions require everyone to give their all from the off.
“I know what we’re going to get on Sunday and I just want our fans to play every single ball with us and that we create a really, really special, vibrant and positive atmosphere,” he told his pre-game press conference.
“If we do that we’re going to make it really, really difficult for Liverpool. But I’m convinced that that’s going to be the case.”
The last time Liverpool visited the Emirates – the FA Cup third round clash in early January – the Reds took advantage of Arsenal’s early profligacy to secure a 2-0 win.
Despite early optimism on the terraces, the fact Arteta’s side came into the match struggling for goals and off the back of two defeats meant the atmosphere was underpinned by a sense of nervousness that turn to tetchiness when the visitors opened the scoring with 10 minutes remaining. The visitors, cheered by a bumper FA Cup seat allocation, enjoyed their moment.
When it was put to Arteta that toiling in front of goal can take a toll on the atmosphere generated by supporters, he replied: “I don’t have that impression. I think the team always has to give the first step and then I think the crowd has to react to that.
“There are special moments and Sunday is a different one when I think it has to be from the beginning, from the whistle, the way you approach the game, the way you sit in the stand, the way you communicate with the person next to you. You have to create that atmosphere.
“I’m very confident that that’s going to be the case. But when that doesn’t happen, I think we have to look at the team and the team has to do more then.”
Arteta certainly isn’t critical of supporters demanding more from his side. Asked if he’s succeeded in turning ‘doubters into believers’ – something Klopp pinpointed as fundamental to his project when he took over at Anfield – he made clear there’s still work to do and that winning silverware remains the ultimate ambition.
“The first intention was that our people feels proud of what we do, proud of the team, proud of the club, how we represent our club and the ambitions that we have, and then joy,” he said.”
“I think we have given them those two things in the last few years, probably more than it was expected. But the demands are bigger and they have to be bigger.
“The demands have to be to win big trophies and major trophies consistently and be at the very top. And in order to do that, everybody has to have the same intention. It doesn’t happen if you don’t demand it from each other in that way. That’s the next step.
He added: Well, we want to [win the title], that’s for sure. Whether we’re going to do it or not, we will know in May, but certainly we are in the right way and we are in the right track for two years, which in this league doesn’t happen too often.”