Arsene Wenger surprised everybody by turning up at Arsenal v West Ham at the Emirates on Boxing Day and after the game, Mikel Arteta explained why the club kept it quiet that Wenger would be making his first return to the club and how he hopes it is the start of something more.
When Arsene Wenger’s appeared on our screens as we got ready to watch Arsenal vs West Ham on Boxing Day, there was both delight and a little confusion.
This was the first time Wenger had been back to the club since he left in the summer of 2018 and there had been no inkling that he was expected to turn up for this game.
Asked about Wenger being there, Arteta explained, “The players didn’t know and we wanted to keep it quiet and allow that space for Arsene here.
“And it was a really special day – thank you so much to him for coming.
“Hopefully, walking through the building, he’s going to feel everything that everybody thinks of him, everything that he left here.
“His presence is something that has to be very attached to this football club. So thank you for doing that because it means a lot to everybody in the club.
“I’m gonna go now to speak to him – hopefully he’ll be waiting for us in the dressing room.”
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That all makes sense.
Could you imagine the drama there would have been from the media before the match had they known?
About putting on a show for Wenger, Arteta said, “Obviously, it’s great and winning means my mood is going to be much better to speak to him and be around the team. So yeah, he picked the right moment.
“A really special day, because Boxing Day is a beautiful day to play football. And I thought the performance was at the level today that he deserves, and hopefully he will like.”
Arteta has always been clear that he wanted Wenger to return to the club at some point, and he was involved in the ‘process’ of bringing him back. “I’ve been involved in the process,” Arteta said, “but it’s about him, the timing that he needed to make that step and hopefully, he’s going to live here and be willing to spend more time with us and be around us because he’s such an influence.
“For me personally – my career and the way I see the game – but as well for this football club.
Speaking last year, the Arsenal manager said about his former boss, “I would like him to be more present at the club.
“I think the players would love him, benefit, and be inspired to have him around and I think for the club it would be a huge boost.
“It was so intense for him for over 20 years and you need to get away a little bit, but I think it would be so beneficial for all parties to have him more present.
“If it was not for him I would not be in the position I am today and I wouldn’t have enjoyed the career I had.”