Arsene Wenger says spending last season’s match in the stands against Chelsea was an uncomfortable experience, and he needs to find a different place to sit this time.
Wenger is serving a touchline ban for his language and behaviour towards Mike Dean after Arsenal’s match against West Brom. Last year, when the Gunners played at Stamford Bridge, the boss was in the same situation.
“I must tell you that was a bad experience,” Wenger said. “I sat next to a guy who says ‘Hello, how are you?’ I said ‘Good afternoon.’ He said, ‘I’m your gardener’. I didn’t even know him, I do have a big garden. He was an Arsenal fan who went to the game at Chelsea. But it was a very uncomfortable experience.
“I was in the middle of the crowd at Chelsea because you have to go on the other side to go in the directors’ box. By the time you get around the stadium, already 10 minutes has been played. I will try to find a different place this time.
“I can still do the pre-match in the dressing room and at half-time. After the game it’s less important. But I could miss nearly one half if it takes too much time to get to and from my seat.”
I think it says something about Arsene Wenger that his main concern is the practical consideration of getting to the dressing room. Most managers would probably be more concerned about sitting surrounded by potentially angry supporters, hence why they all generally sit in the directors’ box.
Last year’s seating arrangement clearly didn’t work out though. Perhaps this year he’ll end up in the Arsenal allocation, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I’m sure every fan there would have their two cents to give on what he should be doing differently. I’m not convinced sitting surrounded by Chelsea fans would be any better either.
At least he can still communicate with the players in the dressing room before the match and at half-time. The old rules strictly prohibited this, but clearly the FA have made some changes since then. Hopefully, whatever Wenger’s situation, the Gunners can get a result.