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Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger in the Chelsea press box – ‘he kicked every ball and the back of chairs’

PUBLISHED: 15:50 11 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:58 11 January 2018

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (centre) and coach Jens Lehmann (second left) watch from the stands during the Carabao Cup Semi Final, First Leg match at Stamford Bridge, London.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (centre) and coach Jens Lehmann (second left) watch from the stands during the Carabao Cup Semi Final, First Leg match at Stamford Bridge, London.

PA Wire/PA Images

It’s true the Islington Gazette brings you closer to the action when we cover Arsenal matches – but now we can also say we bring you closer to Arsene Wenger too!

A general view of the seat reserved for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in the stands before the Carabao Cup Semi Final, First Leg match at Stamford Bridge, London.A general view of the seat reserved for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in the stands before the Carabao Cup Semi Final, First Leg match at Stamford Bridge, London.

While the Gunners were busy holding reigning champions Chelsea to a goalless draw in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Stamford Bridge the Frenchman sat out the second game of his three-match touchline ban – by slumming it in the press box, near to our very own Layth Yousif.

Speaking to hacks after the match in West London on Wednesday evening Wenger said: “You are well treated, the best place in the stadium and you can’t complain. It was frustrating, but I was close to the bench.”

Layth, who covers the club at every game home and away, and who has attended more than 90 per cent of the club’s matches since the 1980s, has been the subject of gentle ribbing from old pals after he was spotted two rows in front of Wenger during Sky Sports coverage, and through a number of photographs.

The dad of three described the experience to us – but is regretting his clothing choice following his brief appearance on television, after his partner complained to him about his attire when the spotlight fell on him.

A general view of the seat reserved for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in the stands before the Carabao Cup Semi Final, First Leg match at Stamford Bridge, London.A general view of the seat reserved for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in the stands before the Carabao Cup Semi Final, First Leg match at Stamford Bridge, London.

“It was slightly surreal having the Arsenal manager near me in the press box,” he said.

“I was two rows down so I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but colleagues reported him kicking the backs of their chairs and using the odd swear word, especially when possession was lost or the ball hoofed into the air.

“Whatever you think of him you simply can’t deny his passion.”

In one of the pictures you can see Layth sitting directly in front of a familiar face to readers of this newspaper – former Gazette Arsenal reporter and Fleet Street legend John Cross.

Arsene Wenger in the press box at Chelsea. Islington Gazette Arsenal reporter Layth Yousif is bottom left in the blue North Face. Credit Sky SportsArsene Wenger in the press box at Chelsea. Islington Gazette Arsenal reporter Layth Yousif is bottom left in the blue North Face. Credit Sky Sports

Layth added of Wenger: “I’m no lip-reading expert but when I looked around to snatch a quick look at his reaction to Arsenal losing the ball he was definitely cursing. It was strange to see him out of his usual environment but fascinating to watch. He kicked every ball.

“I’ve been getting stick all day from pals on Whats App. Even my partner said I should have put a smart coat on, rather than my well-worn blue North Face, as her mum could have been watching.

“In all seriousness I never forget how lucky I am to be in such a position, reporting on live sport really is the best job in the world.

“Even if it is a pressurised role I love every minute of it.

Arsenal's Jack Wilshere and Chelsea's Marcos Alonso (right) battle for the ball during the Carabao Cup Semi Final, First Leg match at Stamford Bridge, London.Arsenal's Jack Wilshere and Chelsea's Marcos Alonso (right) battle for the ball during the Carabao Cup Semi Final, First Leg match at Stamford Bridge, London.

“I do have to say I’ve seen a lot from the vantage point of the press box at every level from non-league to the Premier League – but never the manager of Arsenal Football Club sitting near me.”

The Gunners boss will serve the last game of his touchline ban at the Vitality Stadium when the North Londoners travel to Bournemouth on Sunday.

For our comprehensive coverage of the club buy the Islington Gazette newspaper, visit our website, join our new Arsenal Facebook page and follow Layth on Twitter @laythy29.

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