With our new Premier League season starting in less than 24 hours, Mikel Arteta admits he is so glad we’re beginning with a home game in front of our own supporters.
It has been five years since the fixture computer handed us our first game at Emirates Stadium, meaning Mikel has yet to experience a home opening day game in charge of us.
The anticipation of playing again in front of 60,000 passionate Gooners with three points on the line is something that he can’t wait to experience again, with Nottingham Forest coming to north London for a Saturday lunchtime clash.
Speaking about his emotions on the eve of the new season, he said: “I’m super excited. I think it’s a new challenge and a new opportunity. We’re very fresh to start again and we’re excited to play our first game at home as it’s been a while.
“We love playing at the Emirates and we love playing in front of our people. We have created an incredible atmosphere and the boys and everybody is ready to be there tomorrow at kick-off and put in a performance that they deserve.”
Mikel is eyeing a much-improved display from the one we put in when we last faced Forest back in May. He believes that 1-0 defeat shows that we cannot rest on our laurels and must be ready for what Steve Cooper might have in store as both teams target a win on day one,
“They [beat us last season] in a really clever way and they deserved on the day to get the points,” he added. “Tomorrow we’re going to have to play better to deserve more.
“Steve’s teams are always extremely well organised and what they’ve done last season, especially the way they started and how they’ve adapted to the league and their qualities, is remarkable, so I think they’ve done well.”
One thing that Mikel feels we’re not lacking is confidence heading into the new season, especially after beating Manchester City in the Community Shield last Sunday.
Despite taking home the silverware from Wembley last weekend, the boss is adamant that his team can play much better, and believes that may have to be the case if we’re to see off the challenge of Forest and send our supporters home happy at the first opportunity.
“Winning is the first energy booster that exists,” Mikel said. “It was great, everybody was so happy. It raised the confidence and showed everybody what we can do, but there is still an understanding that we must do better and we can still play much, much better.
“The Forest game is going to be a completely different story and a different context and we’re going to have to be ready for it.”
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