Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has voiced his concern about playing on Sutton United’s artificial 3G pitch.
His team will take on the Non-League side as both sides meet in the fifth-round of the FA Cup.
The match also comes after two Premier League sides’ elimination from the tournament by lower-tier teams, but Wenger insisted that his immediate concern is on the pitch.
“Firstly, the pitch,” said Wenger when asked what are the biggest dangers facing his team. “Secondly, their enthusiasm. Thirdly if we are not ready for a big fight. Subconsciously if we think ‘no matter, it’s a non-league team, we will pass’, that will not happen.”
“Ideally we would like to play on a normal pitch. But it has been accepted so … competition is also about dealing with what you face. We face an artificial pitch and we have to deal with it.”
Wenger believes that Sutton could put up a challenge even though Arsenal’s players have practised on a 3G pitch at their London Colney training ground this week.
“It’s not the same because it’s a dry pitch and I’ve heard that Sutton have a wet pitch, they water it before the game so it’ll be much quicker,” he added.
“It means the weight on the joints is stronger, you cannot glide, you have to block every time so it makes football a bit different because the ball comes to you and somebody accelerates and doesn’t slow down like in a normal game so you have to get used to the difference in speed.”
Nevertheless, a defeat could prove to be a nail in the coffin to Wenger’s position at Arsenal as he came under immense scrutiny following a 5-1 rout by Bayern Munich in the Champions League. The Frenchman hinted that he intends to follow Sir Alex Ferguson in managing into his 70s despite heavy speculation that he could finally be ready to leave the post he has held for more than 20 years after the defeat by Bayern.