Mikel Arteta is preparing his Arsenal title hunters for the “jungle” of Anfield as they look to end an 11-year wait for a Premier League win at Liverpool on Sunday.
The Gunners head into the weekend eight points clear at the top, having played a game more than second-placed Manchester City, but have a woeful recent history on the red half of Merseyside.
Arteta attempted to prepare his players for the atmosphere at Liverpool last season by putting a sound system around the training pitch to pump out ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.
It was made famous in the ‘All or Nothing’ documentary as one of several unique ways the Spaniard approached team-talks, some of which saw him ridiculed.
The quirky preparation for the trip to Anfield backfired as he saw his side thrashed 4-0 but he continues to defend his out-of-the-box thinking.
Asked if he was concerned he was intensifying the task at hand, Arteta replied: “It depends.
“If you want to isolate only a context that is about an atmosphere you’re going to live in, then they should not shoot on goal. Because if they have to shoot on goal on Sunday, don’t shoot on goal on Thursday just in case you miss.
“You have to prepare the players, you have to tell them what they’re going to be facing and you have to recognise that. And an error and a mistake comes after an opportunity to do that and develop yourself.
“You have to expose yourself, you cannot train the players in the zoo and then go to the jungle on Sunday. It’s impossible.
“The team is full of enthusiasm and positivity. We know that we have a big challenge but it is a big opportunity to go to Anfield and do something we haven’t done in many years and that is what is driving the team the last few days.”
Arteta was in the team the last time Arsenal won a Premier League game at Anfield back in 2012 and, in seven away games since Jurgen Klopp became Reds boss, Arsenal have lost by an aggregate of 25-7.
The Anfield crowd was actually whipped into a frenzy when Arteta squared up to Klopp on the touchline with the game goalless last season, while Granit Xhaka was sent off later in the season in a 0-0 Carabao Cup draw.
Asked if it is important for everyone to keep their cool on Sunday, Arteta replied: “Yes. They know that. They experience that.
“We know what we have to do. We’ve played in the toughest places. We went to White Hart Lane and did what the team did, the atmosphere doesn’t get much tougher than that.”
Pushed on his spat with Klopp, he admitted he did not like how he came across in the heat of the moment.
“I would have to be in the situation again. I reacted to defend our players the best possible way but I don’t like seeing myself like this so hopefully not,” he said.
“It happens in football and after that we hugged each other and moved on. The last time we were together nothing happened.
“I have full respect and admiration for what they’ve done. We’ve moved on.
“After that we had the best chance in the game and could have gone 1-0 up. One minute later they have a wide free-kick and score. Who knows? I don’t know.
“They are a great team managed by a top manager and they create an incredible atmosphere that makes it very difficult for any opponent.
“It is the same to come to the Emirates. It’s very, very difficult so we know that and the opportunity is there ahead of us on Sunday.
“Something we have done in the last two or three years is to win in places that the team didn’t do for many years.”