Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has fired a word of warning toward his London-based rivals today, claiming the decision to relocate a team during a stadium rebuild can backfire.
Chelsea and Tottenham are both aiming to revamp Stamford Bridge and White Hart Lane in the next few years, meaning both clubs would have to look toward playing some games at a different ground.
And while Wembley has been suggested as a temporary home to both clubs, Wenger believes this transition can be a difficult one.
The Frenchman was in charge of the Gunners when Arsenal were forced to play Champions League games at Wembley – as their old Highbury home did not meet UEFA competition standards.
And the 70-year-old has now admitted that this move put the club at a temporary disadvantage and even affected the mindset of the supporters who travelled to the matches.
Speaking to Arsenal’s official website, Wenger said: “When you move into a new stadium, you have to feel at home. You have to feel that it is the right place for you.
“That is only created by the history that you build slowly through the games.
“I still think it’s a little bit of a disadvantage, even for the fans, they do not feel completely at home, and that can transmit to the players.
“That was a big problem for us. In hindsight it was maybe a mistake to move to Wembley, but we had no real choice as UEFA did not accept us holding the games at Highbury.”
Wenger also admitted that playing ‘home’ games at a different stadium, like at Wembley, was similar to playing on a neutral ground.
“Looking back today, I say it was a handicap for us.
“The players were comfortable at Highbury and the teams that visited us weren’t comfortable. Suddenly it was like we were playing games on a neutral ground, basically.”