By Richard Clarke

Arsène Wenger believes that the poor pitch at Wembley is behind the times, is worse than any Premier League surface and could be hampering England’s chances of success.

The Arsenal manager was vehement in his criticism of the grass for Saturday’s FA Cup Semi-Final with Chelsea.

Speaking at Monday’s press conference, his concern only seemed to have increased, however was at pains to point out this was not the reason for Arsenal’s defeat.

At Emirates Stadium, Wenger’s team play on what is regarded to be the best pitch in the country. But the Frenchman argues, that did not come about by accident.

"We got it right because we sat down with the architect when we built the stadium and said the first priority is to get the pitch right,” he said.

“The whole design of the stadium was made so the pitch was perfect.

"Now [Wembley] stadium is built it's a bit late to sit down with the architect and do something about the pitch.

"Before, everybody wanted to play at Wembley because the pitch was so special. Now, nobody wants to play at Wembley because the pitch is bad.

"When you spend around £800m [on a stadium] I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for a good pitch.

"It's the worst pitch. In the Premier League, it's 21st position.

"Of course it's handicapping the national team!” he went on.

“Do you think Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney don't want to play on a good pitch? Of course they want to.

“If you go to a dentist and he says: 'listen, I have a tool but it's from 1950’. Then you’ll go to a dentist with a modern instruments.

"Football is the same. If they try to make you play on a pitch from 20 or 30 years ago then anyone would prefer to play on a new, modern pitch. If the pitch is not right then nothing else matters.

"It slows the game down and everyone has a chance to come back in the right position because you have to control the ball instead of playing it one-touch and the whole game becomes slower.

"I don't say this because we lost the game. The game was exactly the same for Chelsea, it's just if you ask any manager or any player they want to play on a good surface.”

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
21 Apr 2009