Arsenal and Mikel Arteta: Like it or not, support matters

Arsenal, Mesut Ozil, Mikel Arteta (Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images)
Arsenal, Mesut Ozil, Mikel Arteta (Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images) /

Mikel Arteta has called on the team and the fans to reunite their relationship. Like it or not, the support of the Arsenal team is important.

Bernd Leno took a goal kick short, passing sideways to David Luiz. There was an immediate groaning murmur around the Emirates stadium. Luiz passed it back to Leno, then Leno played a riskier pass into the midfield, and eventually, Arsenal were able to progress the ball into the middle third.

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This was a moment during the Manchester City defeat in mid-December. Many of the supporters nearby myself were shouting ‘boot it’, ‘clear it’. The players grew increasingly nervous when playing out from the back, clearly affected by the shouts around the ground.

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Whatever you may think about playing out from the back, it is easier for the team to do so with a calm and composed crowd that is in support of their efforts. You must think straight and execute well when playing out from the back. Being nervous and uncertain in your decision-making and action is the worst possible reaction, and so performing these moments in a nervous and uncertain environment like the Emirates is only more difficult.

Like it or not, the supporters’ reactions to what goes on on the pitch has an impact on the players’ performance. The relationship between the fans and the club and the players and the supporters is extremely important. There is a reason why Liverpool are so brilliant at Anfield in Europe. The fans, and the energising impact they have on the players.

New head coach Mikel Arteta is quite aware of the impact the supporters can have. And early on in his tenure, after the fractious end to the Unai Emery era that only saw the toxicity among the fanbase multiply in the post-Arsene Wenger era, Arteta is extremely keen to ensure that the relationship is restored.

Speaking this week, Arteta said:

"“I was really pleased with how the fans treated the players [at Bournemouth]. 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 because it’s going to be very powerful for us to use that."

Whether the fans believe it or not, they can have an extremely positive — or negative — effect on the performance of the players. Those donning the Arsenal shirt are humans, after all. They have feelings, emotions, thoughts. For all of the focus on the analytics, tactics and statistics, human beings are executing plans on the pitch, and they will be impacted by the atmosphere in the stadium.

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Arteta wants to reunite the supporters and the players; the team and its fanbase. And while that may seem a little fluffy and ungrounded, there is great importance to playing in a happy environment, something that Arsenal and their surroundings have not been for some time.