Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has urged his players to rebuild their connection with the club’s fanbase as they look to make a late push towards the Champions League places.
Arteta drew his first game in charge after succeeding Unai Emery as Arsenal’s permanent manager. However, the failure to get all three points against Bournemouth was offset by a significant improvement in performance.
It’s baby steps for Arteta as he looks ahead to his first home match during his senior managerial career, but the Spaniard has already highlighted the relationship with Arsenal fans as a key area his players need to improve over the next few weeks.
“I think energy is everything,” Arteta said, quoted by The Telegraph. “In life, in football and in sports. If we are able to generate this, it will give us a lift.
“I was really pleased with how the fans treated the players against Bournemouth and I was happy that the players went to see the fans after the game as well because we need that connection.
“Slowly, we need to build that back to where it was. It’s going to be very powerful for us to use that.
“We play for them. At the end of the day, they are expecting a lot from us. We have to give them enjoyment, we have to make their lives better and when we win, it will be better because they will be happier. It’s our responsibility and we have to do everything we can to achieve that.”
Arteta readily admits that he has to get the players on board with his project before the fans can be convinced of his appointment – something that will be vital to getting points off Arsenal’s top-six rivals.
The Gunners return to Emirates Stadium on Sunday as they look to host an out-of-form Chelsea side.
Frank Lampard’s side makes the short trip to north London with just one win in their last four matches, where a defeat on matchday 20 could see the Blues fall below Wolves, Tottenham and Sheffield United in the league table.