In Brief

Arsenal civil war erupts over Wenger's fate

Fist fights broke out between Arsenal fans seeking Wenger's departure and those who remain loyal to their manager

A civil war has broken out among Arsenal fans as the club suffered further embarrassment in the Premier League at the weekend. According to the Sun "fans fought each other as Arsene Wenger suffered a first-half humiliation" away at Stoke.

Three goals before the break left Arsenal fans in a state of disbelief, and though the visitors clawed back two of their own in the second half it wasn't enough to prevent the Gunners slipping to their fourth league defeat of the season.

In a further development, the Guardian on Sunday night showed some footage posted on YouTube in which furious Arsenal fans booed and insulted Wenger as he boarded a train at Stoke for the return journey to London

Arsenal now lie in sixth, 13 points behind leaders Chelsea, who suffered a defeat of their own – their first league reverse of the season – away at Newcastle. It's Arsenal's worst start to a league campaign for more than 30 years and for a growing number of fans there won't be any turnaround until Wenger departs.The weekend before last a group of Arsenal fans unfurled a banner during the 1-0 win at West Bromwich Albion telling the Frenchman it was time he left.

But there remains a large section of loyalists among Gooners and the rancour between the two factions exploded in violence during Saturday's defeat at Stoke.

The Sun reproduced some tweets from the travelling Arsenal fans, one of whom reported: "Fist fights between Arsenal fans after the game, absolute joke. Disgusting to see our own fans punching each other." Another tweeted: "Watching our fans attack each other is scaring me. Just want to get home now."

That wasn't the only reason Arsenal fans sought the sanctuary of their homes after Saturday's trip to Stoke. In a series of eye-wateringly appalling displays, the first 45 minutes at the Britannia Stadium were the worst, prompting former England striker Alan Shearer to describe the Gunners as "a shambles" on Match of the Day.

Peter Crouch put the Potters one up after just 19 seconds – the fastest Premier League goal of the season – and Bojan Krkic and Jonathan Walters also got on the scoresheet. Stoke thought they'd added a fourth midway during the second half when Bojan netted but referee Anthony Taylor deemed that Mame Biram Diouf had interfered with play from an offside position.

If that seemed a little harsh Arsenal then added to Stoke's sense of grievance with two quick goals from Santi Cazorla (a penalty) and Aaron Ramsey.

That was as good as it got for the Gunners and their miserable afternoon ended with the dismissal of Calum Chambers on 78 minutes for his second bookable offence.Wenger said the red card was a "bad decision" and he also told reporters "we were a bit unlucky because the third goal was a foul on a corner".

He did concede that his side were "a bit soft". These days at Arsenal, if it's blood and thunder you want, you have to look to the fans.

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