By Adrian Clarke
Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta is urging Everton FC fans to turn up the volume when Villarreal CF visit Goodison Park in tonight's UEFA Champions League third round qualifying tie.
The intriguing first-leg fixture will be Everton's first European tie since 1995 when they were knocked out of the UEFA Cup Winners' by Feyenoord. Arteta believes a decade of frustration suffered by their fans will be released in a frenzy of noise when the Primera División side visit Merseyside.
"We need the fans to get behind us like they would if we were playing the final itself," Arteta told uefa.com. "The supporters know that a good result will give us a great opportunity to enjoy the Champions League group stages where we'll have many more wonderful nights, so I urge them to make as much noise as possible. I really hope that this is going to be the best night for many years at Goodison Park. The atmosphere should be great because so much is at stake. I expect it to be very noisy."
Since finishing a surprise fourth in last season's Premiership, one place above European champions and city neighbours Liverpool FC, manager David Moyes has reportedly missed out on a number of transfer targets including Mohammed Sissoko, Craig Bellamy and Edgar Davids, who all chose to join different Premiership clubs.
Arteta, however, is adamant that the Toffees will not suffer as a result of that. "Signing players for the sake of it does not guarantee anything," he said. "I would welcome all new players to Goodison Park if they have quality and a clear mentality to work hard for success. They are the sort of players we require. But the manager and directors know what Everton need and I am sure they will make the right decisions."
After finishing third in last season's Primera División, Villarreal are making their first venture into the Champions League. Under the guidance of Manuel Luis Pellegrini, the unheralded Spanish club have shone, with Diego Forlán, Josá Mari and Argentinian star Juan Román Riquelme making a huge impression.
'He must be stopped'
It is Riquelme that Arteta has pinpointed as the biggest danger to Everton's fortunes. "The one player we have to take care of is definitely Riquelme," Arteta said. "If he finds space to place his passes he will dominate the game and cause Everton many problems. He must be stopped."
And the former Real Sociedad de Fútbol midfielder, who joined Everton in a permanent €3m transfer earlier this summer, also says it is crucial that his side do not adopt gung-ho tactics in a bid to finish the tie off in the first leg. Arteta concluded: "Villarreal are a very strong team so we have to be very careful not to get carried away at Goodison Park. It would be more sensible to play a balanced game focusing as much on defence as we do on attacking them. I think it would be foolish to think only about scoring goals in the first leg.
"Right now we aren't contemplating anything but an Everton victory," he added. "
We are that confident of beating Villarreal over two legs. But in truth, it is a success in itself for Everton to be involved in the Champions League. Everything is in our own hands now and we are looking forward to the game."
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