‘Go to church’, Mikel Arteta tells critics of Arsenal victory celebrations | Arsenal
Mikel Arteta has hit back at criticism of the celebrations that followed Arsenal’s dramatic comeback against Bournemouth last Saturday, saying anyone taking a dim view would find their time better spent in church than inside a football stadium.
The Football Association investigated the aftermath of Reiss Nelson’s 97th-minute winner, after which members of Arsenal’s bench cascaded on to the Emirates pitch to celebrate with the players, but opted not to take the matter further.
It continued a theme of recent weeks, with the Sky pundit Gary Neville among those to question the emotional scenes that followed another late win at Aston Villa. But Arteta made his thoughts clear and confirmed he has no wish to rein in his camp if similar heroics are performed at Fulham.
“None,” he said. “If you win in football you celebrate.” Asked if he was surprised at the FA’s probe, he continued: “Well, [if] you want passion and emotion there is nothing better than scoring goals and winning football matches. So if not, you go to church. For sure, I won’t be telling the players not to celebrate on Sunday.”
Arteta would not fully rule out a return for Gabriel Jesus at Craven Cottage. The forward is back in training after three months out with a knee injury but, despite speculation to the contrary, was not taken to Lisbon for Thursday’s Europa League draw with Sporting.
“He wasn’t ready to compete,” Arteta said. “Let’s see [about the Fulham game]. He really needs to feel confident and ready to go. He has a big say in that.”
Even if Jesus is not deemed ready Arsenal hope the rest of their attack will be fit for the latest leg of their title challenge. Eddie Nketiah and Leandro Trossard both missed the Sporting tie with injuries, and Martin Ødegaard pulled out late on with illness.
A bug has caused problems at Arsenal’s training ground this week, also ruling Kieran Tierney out of action. Nelson and Fábio Vieira were others to show symptoms but recovered in time to face Sporting.“Hopefully nobody else picks it up and we have a full squad to face Fulham,” said Arteta, whose side had been due to fly home from Portugal on Friday afternoon but departed straight after the match to prepare in London.