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ARSENE WENGER is dreading the prospect of returning to the Stamford Bridge stands after opening up on his ‘uncomfortable experience’ sitting alongside Chelsea supporters last year.
Wenger, who serves the second match of his three match touchline ban, will once again be accompanied by home fan because the directors’ box is on opposite side of the ground to the dressing rooms.
The Frenchman will watch on from the corporate executive seats with rival punters – and among them his gardener.
But he recalled his own painful experience of running the gauntlet in February 2017, on a day when Arsenal lost 3-1 and his own gardener perched up next to him at the London derby.
“I must tell you that was a bad experience,” said Wenger, who was suspended at the time for his altercation with a fourth official.
“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.”
Instead of trying to navigate his way around Chelsea’s ground, Wenger wants easy access to the dressing room before the game and at half-time to deliver his team talk.
He also plans to use first-team coach Jens Lehmann as his mouthpiece to communicate with assistant Steve Bould in the technical area.
Wenger is likely to sit in the middle tier of the East Stand where Chelsea are set to lay on stewards while Arsenal are expected to bring their own security.