at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Dublin – Tomas Rosicky has claimed the volatile atmosphere at Emirates Stadium is damaging Arsenal in home matches but admits the team must win back the support of their fans after a dismal run.
Arsenal lost 2-1 at Olympiakos to finish Champions League Group B in second place and leave them with just four wins from their last 13 matches in all competitions. Although the full extent of Tuesday's defeat will be unclear until the draw for the next phase is made on 20 December, Arsenal will play the crucial second leg away from north London as runners-up.
That may, however, be a blessing in disguise having won only six of 11 home matches this season with fans becoming increasingly vocal in their frustrations at the team's failures.
They host West Bromwich Albion on Saturday and Rosicky, who scored the opening goal in Piraeus before Giannis Maniatis and substitute Kostas Mitroglou struck for the Greek champions, said: “I can understand the frustration, I am an Arsenal fan as well when I wasn't playing.
“It is understandable sometimes but on the other side as well, you have to know we have some young guys and they can feel the frustration as well. That is definitely not helping them.
“We have to all stick together. It is the only thing that we can do – like we did last season when everybody was writing us off and we came back stronger. After the performances we produced, you can feel the great atmosphere that we had against Tottenham and Milan.
“I have been in professional football a long time and it was the best atmosphere I have ever played in. Of course, we have to win the people [over] again. That's the challenge. As I said, we did it last year so why not do it again? It will be difficult, there is no doubt about that, we are capable of doing it again. If we are all on board, Arsenal is a great place to play football, but we have to stick together and fight.”
Rosicky's goal was his first since March and marked his first start since suffering an Achilles tendon injury with the Czech Republic at Euro 2012.
Manager Arsène Wenger took the 32-year-old off at half-time with Saturday's match in mind and Rosicky is desperate to inject some flair into a jaded team as he did during the second half of last season when he played arguably the best football of his career.
“I am a creative player, that is where I can contribute,” he said. “It is harder to come back when you are older but it is part of the game, you have to fight through it. If you start to feel sorry for yourself, that is the worst thing you can do. You have to fight constantly.” – The Independent