It’s been 14 years since Arsenal swapped Highbury for the Emirates Stadium, and a former club legend has gone on record to suggest that the club lost its soul when they moved out of their iconic former ground.
Arsene Wenger completely changed the way in which the club went about their business on the pitch, and many of his decisions resonated off of the pitch too. He was in charge of the first team when the Gunners had to make the transition, but the Frenchman has suggested that the move hasn’t been good for the club in terms of trying to recreate the same sort of atmosphere.
“To compete with the other clubs, we had to build a new stadium. The rules had changed,” Wenger told beIN Sports and cited by the Daily Mail.
“We wanted to create the same as Highbury but we left our soul at Highbury. We could never recreate exactly. We didn’t find exactly the same atmosphere.
“For me, Highbury is linked with love. Love for the period I had, the exceptional attitude of the fans, the exceptional football games I witnessed there. It’s a special place in my heart.”
There’ll surely be many supporters that will agree wholeheartedly with Wenger’s sentiments. Although the Emirates is a sumptuous 60,000 capacity stadium, having the stands set back from the pitch does take something away from the intensity.
Highbury’s stands, particularly those running down the sides of the pitch, were just a couple of yards from the touchline and meant that opposing players could be easily intimidated. The Emirates isn’t conducive to a similar set up, but perhaps after Wenger’s outburst, supporter groups might take action.