Arsenal Fan Yells at Arsene Wenger During Pitch Invasion vs. Benfica

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2017

Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger watches from the touchline during the pre-season friendly football match between Arsenal and Benfica at The Emirates Stadium in north London on July 29, 2017, the game is one of four matches played over two days for the Emirates Cup. / AFP PHOTO / Ian KINGTON / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.  /         (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)
IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

Arsenal's 5-2 home win over Benfica in the Emirates Cup pre-season tournament was marred by an angry fan running onto the pitch and shouting abuse toward manager Arsene Wenger.

The Gunners boss got involved in an angry spat with the fan, who entered the field of play during the first half of Saturday's game at the Emirates Stadium, per Sami Mokbel of MailOnline. Both exchanged words before the disgruntled supporter was withdrawn by security.

Mokbel described the scenes: "The disgruntled fan made a beeline for the Gunners boss during the first half before being tackled by stewards. The supporter still appeared to launch a tirade at the Arsenal manager as he was escorted off the pitch. Wenger responded to the irate fan before he was led away."

However, James Benge of the London Evening Standard had a different view:

Wenger sought to clear things up after the match, per Tom Sheen of The Sun: "I saw the stewards had caught him in a bit of a strong way and I just said ‘calm down’. He looked like he wanted to talk to me and and I tried to find out what he wanted to tell me.”

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has had to get used to heckles from the home support in recent years. A similar incident took place during a defeat at Southampton in 2015.

The fan who invaded the pitch that day was later given a three-year ban from attending matches and a fine of £500, per Richard Parry of the London Evening Standard.

Last season saw several fans engage in organised protests towards the club's longest-serving manager, per Sam Jones of the Daily Mirror.

Tensions from the stands were increased as Wenger's Gunners fell out of contention in the Premier League title race. Wenger hasn't won the title since Arsenal did so without losing a game in the 2003/04 season.

Yet the Gunners did claim the FA Cup this year, their third in the last four seasons. Wenger's reward was a new two-year deal, one some felt the 67-year-old hardly merited.

Security spared Wenger the abuse of an unhappy fan.
Security spared Wenger the abuse of an unhappy fan.Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images

The Frenchman railed against the way such negativity undermined his team last season, per Adam Crafton of the Daily Mail: "That is very difficult for the players to cope with. There are some other reasons we will talk about another day. But the psychological environment for the group of the players was absolutely horrendous."

Wenger also labelled the personal criticism he faced as a "disgrace" during an interview with BBC Sport's Football Focus (h/t BBC Sport): "The lack of respect from some has been a disgrace and I will never accept that. I will never forget it."

The idea of a fan admonishing the manager during a friendly, one Arsenal would win by three goals, almost defies belief.

However, the incident was a worrying reflection of the animosity for Wenger still present among sections of the north London side's supporters.