Reflecting on a bittersweet 2022/23 campaign, Mikel Arteta has urged our players to finish on a high when we host Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday.
Having failed to win either of our last two games, the boss is keen that we leave our supporters with something to savour before the summer months, as a reward for their passionate backing throughout the campaign.
When he was asked in his pre-match press conference what his message to our Gooners would be ahead of the summer, he said: “Now it’s about finishing the season in style, providing a great performance and getting a victory in front of our people.
“We want to show our gratitude and receive the incredible energy that they have given us throughout the season, and start to build for the next season. We have to wrap it up in the best possible way.
“It’s been some journey, full of emotions, and really looking forward [to something] that in the end we haven’t achieved. But I think looking at it with a bit of perspective, there are a lot of things - not only on the field - that have happened at the club that deserves a lot of credit from a lot of people."
The atmosphere at Emirates Stadium this season has been a major talking point all season long, with many commenting it's the best they've heard since our move from Highbury in 2006.
Mikel feels that too, and believes the connection between all facets of the club is possibly the biggest thing we have achieved this term, as we strive for even better next season with our return to the Champions League for the first time in seven seasons secured.
“It’s very close to the dream I had," he spoke about the Emirates atmosphere. "Two days before I sat down in the managerial position I was on the other bench, looking at that picture that I wasn’t really happy with. I had a very similar position in my head of some of the experiences we’ve had this year. Something important is missing - lifting the cup with everybody together. That’s what we have to try to do now.
“I think the team has connected, I think the club has connected. The departments at the clubs have connected with each other in a really powerful way. The crowd has connected with the team, the club, the ownership and the rest of the world. And I think we have connected again with our DNA: who we are, our way of doing things, and we have to move forward.”
Despite what can be considered a highly successful and progressive season on the pitch, Mikel’s full focus following Sunday’s game will be on next season.
On his plans, he said: “No celebrations, obviously. First of all, from our side, we’ll show gratitude for everything the players and the staff have done - the work they have put in, the energy, the passion. We had dinner last week, all together.
“I imagine that moment in the stadium [on Sunday] when we have our family and everybody there, will be a good moment to wrap the season up, look at each other and go again."
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