Arsene Wenger has offered his honest opinion on Arsenal’s move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium, admitting a big piece of the club’s identity was lost in the transition.
The Gunners decided to upgrade to a 60,000 capacity venue in 2006 after spending 93 years at Highbury, which housed 38,419 supporters in total.
During the 10 years before the switch, Arsenal won 11 trophies under Wenger’s stewardship – including three Premier League titles – while competing with arch-rivals Manchester United for domestic supremacy.
Arsenal have been unable to sustain those levels of success at the Emirates, however, where they have still yet to win a single league crown after falling behind the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea in English football’s pecking order.
Wenger, whose reign in the managerial hot seat lasted 22 years in total, believes his old club left their soul at Highbury, and have been unable to replicate the same atmosphere at the Emirates.
“I moved from Highbury, which was similar to Anfield, but there was a soul in the stadium,” the Frenchman told beIN Sports.
“We built a new stadium but we never found our soul – we left our soul at Highbury. We could never recreate it for security reasons.
“The distance from the pitch to the stand had to be bigger as we needed ambulances to come in. The inclination of the stands had to be smaller all those things together that we didn’t find to recreate the atmosphere.”
Arsenal completed an entire Premier League season unbeaten back in 2003-04, and went on to set a record of 49 games without defeat with Wenger at the helm.
Liverpool are now on course to beat that mark and emulate Arsenal’s invincibles in the process, having enjoyed the best start to a top-flight campaign in the history of the five major European leagues.
Wenger says the Reds are on the right track after cutting out a “fear of losing”, with a number of “intelligent” players leading their charge across the pitch.
“You look at the number of goals they score and the number of goals they concede,” Wenger added. “They are very good. They play intelligent football, their players make intelligent decisions on the pitch.
“My experience when you play the whole season unbeaten is that they accumulated the belief that if they just continue to play they will win the game.
“That is very difficult to get in the team because you need a special run to do that and to get the fear of losing out of the team.
“It’s something that is very important and they have that at the moment.”