Mikel Arteta: Arsenal Must Build 'Connection' with Fans Ahead of Chelsea Clash

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistDecember 28, 2019

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal FC at Vitality Stadium on December 26, 2019 in Bournemouth, United Kingdom. (Photo by Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images)
Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has spoken of the importance of rebuilding a relationship between the supporters and the team ahead of his side's Premier League showdown with Chelsea on Sunday.

The new head coach took charge of his first game on Boxing Day, in which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's goal earned the team a point at Bournemouth. The striker celebrated wildly with supporters after levelling the scores at 1-1.

A lively atmosphere is expected at the Emirates Stadium for Arteta's first home game at the helm, and the former Gunners midfielder has said that he feels a strong bond between the fans and the players is crucial, per Tom Webber of Goal:

"I think energy is everything, in life, in football and sports, and if we are able to generate this [against Chelsea] it will give us a lift.

"I was really pleased how the fans treated the players [at 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 what it was because it's going to be very powerful for us to use that.

"[Chelsea] are a terrific team, so it will be a really good test for us."

Here are the highlights from the 1-1 draw at the Vitality Stadium, where the Gunners recovered from a first-half setback to ensure Arteta enjoyed an unbeaten start to life in the Arsenal hot seat:

Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News was critical of the manner in which the Arsenal skipper celebrated with the travelling fans after the equaliser:

Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst

Sums up Arsenal that Aubameyang celebrates an equaliser at *Bournemouth* by almost disappearing into the away end. He's not the first Arsenal player to have done that. You've then got Greenwood, at 18, only thinking about the restart after equalising in league games. #MOTD

Throughout the season, it's clear there's been a lack of affinity between some sections of the crowd and various players.

Granit Xhaka reacted angrily to being jeered by the Emirates crowd earlier in the season against Crystal Palace, culminating in him being stripped of the club captaincy. Mesut Ozil was also on the end of similar flak from the supporters when taken off against Manchester City earlier in December.

Arteta will hope his appointment wipes the slate clean and that, as a result, the players receive full backing from the crowd. Football writer Tim Stillman was encouraged by what he saw at Bournemouth:

Tim Stillman @Stillberto

A low bar, admittedly, but the best Arsenal have played in a while and certainly the hardest they’ve worked.

Arsenal are in desperate need of points heading into this encounter, as they sit in 11th in the Premier League table ahead of the Week 20 matches.

Chelsea have shown vulnerabilities as of late, losing five of their past seven Premier League matches. Frank Lampard's side did perform well in their previous away game, though, winning 2-0 at another London rival, Tottenham Hotspur.