Mikel Arteta has described Anfield as the only stadium which gave him the ‘pajara’ or feeling of being “stuck” as a player.
As a result, the Manchester City assistant coach was not surprised to see former club Barcelona humbled 4-0 by Liverpool last month, a result which helped Jurgen Klopp’s men overturn a Champions League semi-final deficit to reach a ninth European Cup final.
A 3-0 first leg win at the Camp Nou, with Lionel Messi bagging a brace, put the Spanish champions in the box seat with many observers squashing Liverpool’s chances of turning the tie around.
However, in a repeat of last year’s quarter-final exit to AS Roma, the Catalan giants succumbed to another embarrassing capitulation. Georginio Wijnaldum and Divock Origi would both score braces to etch their name into Anfield folklore.
Someone not surprised, and half-expected a comeback, was Arteta – now Pep Guardiola’s assistant coach at Manchester City who pipped Liverpool to the Premier League – having previously felt the power of the Reds home ground whilst representing local rivals Everton and Arsenal.
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“No, because it is very difficult to beat them,” he told Marca when asked if Liverpool’s comeback surprised him.
“Also, in my playing career, Anfield was the only ground where in which I had the feeling of ‘pájara’, of being stuck.
“It happened to me with Arsenal, and we conceded five… You say: ‘I do not know what’s going on, stop the game, please, because I do not know where I am’.
“It’s hard to explain, but it never happened to me anywhere other than Anfield. Barça surprise me by the form of some of their goals, but at Anfield you can concede five without knowing.
“Neither in Spain nor in Greece or Germany did I have that feeling. Not even in Old Trafford.”
Arteta’s record at Anfield. Five key things to know…
- Arteta played nine times at Anfield as a footballer.
- Six of those games were with Everton and three for Arsenal.
- He’d win on two occasions and drew four times.
- His first two defeats were narrow 1-0 losses.
- However, the third in an Arsenal shirt was a humbling 5-1 loss, a game which saw him score his only goal at Anfield.