Football

Arteta: Fans would be surprised if they got to know the Kroenkes

Arsenal's under-fire owners Stan and Josh Kroenke are committed to the London club and supporters would be pleasantly surprised if they get the opportunity to know them, manager Mikel Arteta said yesterday.

The Kroenkes said on Tuesday that they are not selling any stake in the club and have not received and will not entertain any offers after Swedish billionaire Daniel Ek, the chief executive of music streaming service Spotify said he was keen on buying the club.

Arsenal's owners have previously come under fire for a lack of adventure in the transfer market and faced fans' ire again after announcing plans last week to compete in the ill-fated European Super League.

EUROPA LEAGUE SEMI-FINAL, 1ST LEG
VILLARREAL ARSENAL

Thousands of fans protested outside the Emirates ahead of their defeat by Everton last Saturday, but Arteta said before their Europa League semi-final, first leg against Villarreal tomorrow morning (Singapore time) that the owners had set the record straight.

He said: "When they said what they did... and show commitment and desire to take the team where we all want, I think it's clear.

"They're fully excited and committed to this project... If they (fans) get the opportunity to know them, I'm sure they'll be surprised."

Arteta said left-back Kieran Tierney had avoided surgery for a knee injury sustained in their defeat by Liverpool this month and was nearing a return.

Forwards Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are also in contention after recent knocks.

Villarreal coach Unai Emery, whose reputation was shaken after a dismal end with Arsenal, has proven himself again with the Spanish club.

Arteta said Emery helped advise him on making the switch from Manchester City assistant to Arsenal boss and praised the impact his predecessor had.

"I spoke with him before I took the Arsenal job, he was really helpful. He was honest and open with me and I'm very grateful because that's not common when someone is sacked."

Villarreal will also be eyeing continental glory as their top-four push has stalled. They are seventh in La Liga, 21 points behind fourth-placed Sevilla.

Emery told uefa.com: "I want to win for myself and for Villarreal. I have that... responsibility I owe the club. I did that proudly when I was at Arsenal, now I'll do that at Villarreal." - REUTERS

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