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Wenger expects 'very uncomfortable' experience sat amongst Chelsea fans

Wenger expects 'very uncomfortable' experience sat amongst Chelsea fans
From ESPN - January 9, 2018

LONDON -- Arsene Wenger is bracing for a repeat of what he called a "very uncomfortable" experience last year -- sitting in the stands among the Chelsea fans at Stamford Bridge.

Wenger is again serving a touchline ban for Wednesday's first leg of the Carabao Cup semifinals -- just as he was for last season's 3-1 Premier League away loss against the Blues. That time he had to sit wedged in among the Chelsea fans in order to have a shorter trip to and from the dressing room, since the director's box is on the opposite side of the stadium.

"I was in the middle of the crowd. [It was] very uncomfortable," said Wenger, who was sanctioned by the FA for verbally abusing referee Mike Dean. "It was not a pleasant experience. But at Chelsea you have to go on the other side to go in the director's box. So the time [it takes to] get around the stadium, it's 10 minutes played."

The Arsenal boss is still allowed to address his team before the game and at half-time, which is why he wants a quick route to the dressing rooms. He said he's not sure where he will be sitting for Wednesday's game, but that he "will try to find a different place."

He added, though, that sitting among the supporters did have one benefit. Wenger managed to run into his own gardener, a man he'd never actually met before.

"I sat next to a guy. He says 'Hello, how are you?' And I said, 'Good afternoon.' He said, 'I am your gardener.' And I did not know him," Wenger said with a laugh. "He is an Arsenal fan, but he went to the game at Chelsea."

This will be Arsenal's second meeting in a week with Chelsea, following the 2-2 Premier League draw at the Emirates last Wednesday. That game featured a contentious penalty decision, with Wenger saying Eden Hazard should have been booked for a dive after going to ground following light contact from Hector Bellerin.

Wenger's comments earned a rebuke from Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who called the 67-year-old Frenchman an "old coach" who had a habit of questioning referees.

In response, Wenger said he had not meant to criticize Hazard and called his behaviour "very professional."

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