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Wenger - How I felt when leaving Highbury

It may seem hard to believe, but last season was our 11th at Emirates Stadium.

After spending the previous 93 years at Highbury, we moved to the state-of-the-art venue in 2006, but the decision to leave our spiritual home did not come without its concerns. 

“The main problem was that we we might have first lost our soul at Highbury,” Arsene Wenger told Arsenal Player. “I remember very well the last game at Highbury and to move into something new was exciting, but as well you carry a little bit of anxiety with you. 

“That’s because it felt so homely at Highbury, but of course, to face suddenly something that is completely new [was on our minds]. As a striker, when you play on the pitch you know where the adverts are - sometimes the strikers do not see the goal, but they have just a look and they know where they are when they are used to playing on a pitch. 

“Some strikers explain that sometimes they don’t see the goal but they see the advert and they know that’s not far from the goal so they know where it is, considering the goal, and then they can take the shot that they want. So you lose all those kind of geographical references that you have on the pitch. 

Arsene Wenger with Thierry Henry at Highbury

“Another concern was that we lost the proximity of the fans,” Wenger added. “You could take a corner and shake hands with the fans at Highbury. In the new stadium it became nine metres distance. So I wanted to see how warm the new stadium would be and after that to rebuild the history in the new stadium. That takes time as well. 

“We have seen it again with West Ham now, but everybody feels that when you play at home you don’t play on neutral ground. For a while you play on a neutral ground in your mind. Today when you play at the Emirates, you feel at home. But for a while that took time to get into the heads and brains.”

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