By Chris Harris
Anyone who has moved home can sympathise with Arsène Wenger when he talks about the need to adapt to new surroundings.
For most of us that means unpacking boxes, arranging furniture and hanging pictures. For Wenger and his players, it means coming to terms with the loss of Highbury and getting used to a new environment at Emirates Stadium.
Saturday's 3-0 win against Sheffield United was Arsenal's first Premiership victory at their new home and undoubtedly a step in the right direction. And as Wenger explained afterwards, his players are growing accustomed to the different "visuals" at their new stadium.
"Emirates Stadium did not feel like home at first because Highbury is in your mind when you play at home and it takes time," said Wenger. "But I feel more at home every time, for example finding my way to the press [area]. You feel better in every game.
"For the team, visually it is different. Part of a striker's game when he turns is to know where the goal is even if he doesn't see it, because he identifies the advertisements which are behind the goal or to the side. These visual things you miss at first [at a new stadium].
"Visually we have also had to adapt to a different pitch dimension. It looks to me that the defenders when they win the ball are not used to looking as far as they should because the strikers are further away than they were at Highbury. It was better [on Saturday], but that takes time too."
The pitch at Emirates Stadium is bigger than the old Highbury pitch but the new dimensions were not the brainchild of Wenger. In fact, Arsenal were compelled to increase the area of their playing surface.
"Highbury was 64 to 100 [yards], and this is 68 to 105. It's not much but two metres does make a difference," said Wenger. "We had no choice [to make it bigger]; it is down to the UEFA dimensions. Before we had an exception to play European matches at Highbury.
"But our training pitches are now bigger and we have a team that can cope and have an advantage on a big pitch because we can run a lot and we are quite quick."
Copyright 2013 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 25 Sep 2006