Stoke City fans are more hostile than Tottenham ones - Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger says he faces even more hostility from Stoke City fans these days than from Tottenham supporters.
Arsenal travel to the Britannia Stadium on Sunday for what has traditionally been an acid test for Wenger's team, who have not won at Stoke since 2010. That game is best remembered for Ryan Shawcross' tackle on Aaron Ramsey that broke the Arsenal midfielder's leg, prompting an angry response from Wenger.
The following season, the Arsenal manager accused Stoke under Tony Pulis of resembling a "rugby team." He has not been popular at the Britannia since, and said the atmosphere there is now even more hostile than when Arsenal travel to White Hart Lane to face its North London rival.
"Is it worse than Tottenham? It is maybe more aggressive, yes," Wenger said. "I think the major incident was not that [rugby] comment," Wenger said. "The major incident was Ramsey. That's where it started.
"Why do they boo me? I don't know. You should ask them. I don't bully them."
Wenger will likely face another hostile reception on Sunday but has said this Stoke team under Mark Hughes plays a more technical style of football that suits Arsenal better.
This will still be another test of Arsenal's title credentials, though, and the team can reclaim top spot in the standings with a win. It's a stark contrast to last year's trip, when Arsenal were already struggling before losing 3-2, having trailed 3-0 at halftime. That performance was so poor that a small group of Arsenal fans booed the team as they were boarding a train back to London, an incident that soon spread over social media.
However, Wenger said the incident was exaggerated.
"It was four people shouting," Wenger said. "It happens to me at the [Emirates] stadium, as well. More was made of it than it really was.
"It didn't stop me from sleeping. What stops me from sleeping is losing games. I can live with the fact that people are not happy. I can understand it. You ask me: 'Can I live with it?' I say 'I would prefer not to but if I have to, I will.'
"In our job, it's a balance always to find between the masochistic trend that you get and the right to exert your passion."
If Arsenal do break their hoodoo at the Britannia, Wenger will likely face a better reception at the train station this time -- and at the Emirates.