By Richard Clarke

Although Arsène Wenger feels Istanbul is a “special, unique” football venue, the Arsenal manager does not believe the city’s famously vociferous fans will affect his team when they take on Fenerbahce on Tuesday.

The visiting party fly on to Turkey on Monday in search of a victory that would make them red-hot favourites to win Champions League Group G.

However, in last season’s competition, Fenerbahce proved anything but pushovers. They won all five of their home games, including a 2-1 victory over eventual finalists Chelsea in the last eight.

A part of that proud record is credited to the passion created by the home fans. However Wenger argues that previous excesses have been curbed.

“They have the most passionate fans in Europe,” he said, speaking before the weekend. “Especially in Istanbul where you have Besiktas, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce.

“It is a unique place and for me it is a special city. But it is very, very tough.

“However it will not affect the players,” he went on. “It could have done 20 years ago but one of the good things done by Uefa is that they protect the players and the competitions so much they know if [the teams] do too much they will be kicked out.

“Every simple thing is filmed. That was not the case 20 or 30 years ago. You had a little more freedom to express your aggressiveness then. But that has gone.”

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20 Oct 2008