Mikel Arteta: ‘The impact they can make tomorrow is incredible’ as Arsenal boss issues rallying cry to fans

Ahead of Arsenal’s encounter against FC Porto in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League at the Emirates Stadium, Mikel Arteta addressed the media at the club’s Sobha Realty Training Ground in preparation for the round-of-sixteen decider. 

The press conference kicked off with the Spaniard giving updates on the team availability. Takehiro Tomiyasu and Jurrien Timber could both be seen during the training session today, whilst Gabriel Martinelli was absent.

Regarding the availability of Martinelli, Arteta stated that there are ‘not many updates, we still have 24 hours and we’re trying to have everyone fit’. He went on to say that ‘Tomiyasu trained for the first part, Martinelli didn’t.’

Amidst Liverpool and Manchester City battling it out for a draw on Sunday afternoon, and Arsenal surpassing Brentford, the Gunners sit pretty at the top of the Premier League. Arteta praised the clash between the sides on Sunday, going on to express his determination to maintain their leading position.

Embed from Getty Images

‘It’s great to be at the top, that’s for sure. It was an amazing game of football, with two magnificent teams, with so many alternatives, and I think it’s an amazing situation that we are in both, looking at the level that those teams have, that we are still there, and we are still at the top. So, the ambition raises, we want to continue to be there, and we have to go game by game.’

Arsenal are looking to overcome the 0-1 deficit on aggregate against FC Porto, after Galeno’s late strike put the Portuguese side in the driving seat for a place in the last eight. The Gunners are hoping to turn around a torrid record in the round-of-sixteen in the Champions League, having been knocked out in this stage in their previous seven appearances in the competition.

Asked about what he will do differently on Tuesday to ensure there isn’t a repeat of the first leg, the 41-year-old admitted they will have to make some changes.

‘Yeah, we’re certainly going to have to tweak a few things to generate much more than what we did against them. But, yeah, it’s the level of the Champions League. It’s going to be tough. You’re facing top teams. The fact that there are two games as well plays a little bit in your mind, and we’re going to have to be better tomorrow.’

Arteta anticipates a lively atmosphere at the Emirates Stadium tomorrow night, and emphasises the crucial role the fans could play. The Gunners‘ manager revealed that he’s going to need them to bring the noise. It could just be the difference maker, and see Arsenal progress into a Champions League quarterfinal for the first time since 2010. Coincidentally, the team they knocked out that year was FC Porto. 

Embed from Getty Images

‘I think the impact that they can make tomorrow is incredible. I don’t think that they realise. So we need that. We need that noise. We need them playing every single ball with us. We need that emotional control as well, to understand that the game can go through certain phases, and we have to be really intelligent to push in the right moments to get what we want. But it’s a beautiful opportunity to have those nights. It’s been 14 years, so everything that we put in there is going to be worth it.’

Despite having one eye on the Premier League title, Arteta touched on how his side have undergone preparation for this affair and how the players are going to have to control their emotions ahead of an important game in North London. 

Arteta was asked if there had to be a certain level for controlling that passion and emotion. ‘For sure,’ he told reporters, ‘but obviously the game context is very important. And we know that we have a long match to play, and it can be moments where you can go your way and moments that can change dramatically quickly. And that’s the Champions League as well. Emotionally, you have to be very prepared to play those kinds of games.’

Arsenal face FC Porto at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday evening, with kick-off scheduled for 20:00 GMT. The match will be broadcasted live in the UK, available on TNT Sports.