LONDON (AFP) - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said he has no qualms about travelling on the train to and from Stoke with his squad despite the abuse they received from angry fans after last season's defeat at the Britannia Stadium.
In an age where the immense wealth of Premier League players often leads to accusations they are no longer accessible to supporters, Arsenal were praised for using public transport last term when they made the journey from north London to the Midlands town of Stoke.
But, after a 3-2 defeat, Wenger and his team found themselves having to confront irate supporters when they returned to London.
As the current Premier League leaders, Arsenal will travel to Stoke - where they have won just once in the league in the last 25 years - for Saturday's match in good spirits, with Wenger ready to risk some more harsh words if the result goes against the Gunners.
Asked on Friday if Arsenal would again travel by train, Wenger replied: "Yes. We travel in what we think is the best and the shortest way. You want as well not to be isolated too much because you want contact with people who love the club, you want contact with the fans."
The veteran French manager added: "It was my function and the fact that I'm responsible for the club that was attacked. I didn't take it (personally). I was sad and upset more by the result than by the individual reactions of people, which I can understand. When you love a club, you want the results to be positive.
Wenger's side conceded a last-gasp equaliser in a midweek 3-3 draw with Liverpool.
However, the manager was concerned that matters could get out of hand, having seen recently some unpleasant scenes in France when fans confronted players and clubs over disappointing results.
"It's a more common thing now and I believe it will be a problem in the coming years. That problem I see it, observing in Europe," he said. "I see in France especially now in the last two or three weeks, many problems occurred with disappointing results on that front.
"It exists a lot in France, with disenchanted people coming out and having an aggressive behaviour. It might be one of the problems that football has to face in the coming years. You see it in many countries now, more and more."