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Mikel Arteta is not concerned about winning over the fans at his first home game in charge of Arsenal. For now, he has a big enough task winning over the players.
There were definite signs of improvement in his opening game at Bournemouth, a 1-1 draw in which his team showed some of the passion and commitment that had been missing from recent performances.
It was still not enough to end a run of just one win in 14 games in all competitions – with a fierce London derby against Chelsea next on the agenda.
Arteta accepts there has been too much negativity at home games recently, but insists that addressing that cannot be his immediate priority.
“First I need to convince the players,” he said. “Then, if I can convince the players, afterwards we can convince the fans. I think it’s very, very important in my job.
“We play for them. At the end of the day, they’re 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. Hopefully we can change it.”
Arteta led the applause for the away fans at the Vitality Stadium on Boxing Day and he knows that with the supporters onside, the Emirates can be a powerful weapon for the Gunners,
“I think energy is everything, in life in football and in sports,” he said “If we are able to generate this, it will give us a lift.
“I was really pleased with how the fans treated the players today 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.”
At least with the game scheduled for Sunday, Arteta has the extra day to complete his pre-match preparations.
He is taking no comfort that Chelsea, too, have struggled of late, with five defeats in their last seven Premier League matches.
“I know they lost at home again but they are a terrific team, so it will be a really good test for us,” Arteta said.
“What I want now is to review the Bournemouth game, go through the individual and collective issues that we had, the positives and negatives to try to convince the players that if they do more of this then they will be more comfortable in the game.
“Then we’ll be closer to winning football games.”