By Richard Clarke
The re-introduction of Emmanuel Eboue is better done away from home, according to Arsène Wenger.
The Ivorian was booed by certain sections of the crowd for his performance against Wigan on Saturday and his eventual substitution only drew sarcastic cheers from those same supporters.
It is a real rarity for a home player to receive such treatment at Emirates Stadium and the issue has been high on the media agenda in England this week.
Overall, support for Eboue has been strong since Saturday. It has come from his fellow players, his manager and, according to Wenger, much of the wider media.
Injuries mean the 25-year-old will jump into the starting line-up in Porto this evening. With Bacary Sagna injured, Eboue may continue his re-integration away at Middlesbrough on Saturday. Wenger believes that may be for the best.
“Yes, he will play at right back,” said the Frenchman in Portugal ahead of tonight’s Champions League clash. “He has reacted well. He was down for 48 hours but yesterday and today he was alright.
“All his friends called him up on Sunday to cheer him up. That was the main help.
“And I think it is better and easier for him to be away than to be at the Emirates Stadium, maybe more in his head than anything else.
“Porto is a hostile ground to play,” joked Wenger. “But it’s better to be hostile at all 11 players than one.”
No one, not even Wenger, has said Eboue played well on Saturday. However many, including Wenger, have said it is highly unfair to heap all the frustrations surrounding Arsenal’s season onto the shoulders of one player. The manager believes a specific set of circumstances were at play in the final minutes against Wigan.
“I think it was a one-off,” said Wenger. “Firstly he was a bit tired, secondly he was in a situation where it was a bit nervy for people because we were only 1-0 up and thirdly, for once, all the media stood behind him.
“There has been a unanimous reaction and for me that is very positive. They could have said ‘oh but you have made two bad passes’ but I must say all football people have given a very strong response in his favour. That may have made the fans realise they have gone too far.
“This situation can happen to anybody and if he deals with it he can be stronger. It is difficult if your home crowd is against you. But what can you do? It is a public job and in our job you have to deal with all sorts of responses that you get from people.
“Of course I was disappointed. But that does not really count, what does count is your performance on the pitch and how well you respond.”Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 10 Dec 2008