Arsène Wenger thinks that Arsenal have the experience necessary to deal with a passionate fanbase like Red Star Belgrade’s.
The Belgrade fans are expected to create an intimidating atmosphere for what is likely to be a slightly less experienced Arsenal side, as against BATE Borisov. The Gunners managed to deal with the away support in Belarus, and Wenger is confident they’ll be able to do the same in Serbia.
The Arsenal boss told his pre-match press conference: “The support of the team always has a positive impact, but we have the habit to deal with that – we have these stadiums in England and we have long experience in the Champions League. I don’t think that will have a negative impact on us,” reports Arsenal.com.
“But of course, we are in a country which has a big football tradition, has produced fantastic players in history, a country that knows team sport and knows football very well. So we expect of course a game with huge commitment from everybody.”
Arsenal have only travelled to Belgrade to face Red Star once in the past, back in 1978. At the time, the two teams were playing in the old version of the Europa League, the UEFA Cup. With an eleven that included Pat Rice, David O’Leary and Alan Sunderland, Arsenal lost 1-0 to the Serbian side.
The teams are very different now, but the Gunners will have to be wary of the same thing happening again. Red Star Belgrade have been Champions League winners, the club is unlikely to be intimidated by a clash with Arsenal.
As long as there are no negative incidents in the stands, the match promises to be an interesting encounter. I expect that Wenger is right to foresee a high-level of commitment from Arsenal’s opponents, his side will need to match that.