Albert Sambi Lokonga has revealed that he enjoys playing in the stadiums of his club’s biggest rivals because the hatred from their fans gives him extra motivation to do well.
The Belgian joined the Gunners in the summer, and his first match for them was the Premier League game against Brentford.
It was a tough baptism of fire for him as the Bees had just been promoted to the Premier League and their fans were very vocal in the stadium.
Arsenal lost the match 2-0, but Lokonga soaked up the atmosphere at the Brentford Community Stadium and he says he loves football with fans in it.
He didn’t enjoy the game when matches were played behind closed doors and he was looking forward to playing in front of English fans when he joined Arsenal.
The midfielder admits he doesn’t have a favourite stadium but says he enjoys facing rivals at their home and thrives on the hostility from the home fans.
“Before I came here, I’d heard that the English fans are crazy in love with football and are really passionate – and they’ve confirmed it from day one,” he said to Arsenal’s official website.
“The atmosphere at that first game was very good. When you’re a player you like to have a crowd like this – you feel the crowd there as well, and you like this kind of environment.
“I really didn’t like it when there were no fans at games. I much prefer football with fans. In fact I love football with fans.
“I don’t know if I’ve got a favourite stadium to play in, but what I really like is to play in the stadiums of our biggest rivals. I love that, when everybody doesn’t like you and they hate your club. It gives you more energy and I think you play better.”