Feuding managers ready for feisty reunion at Old Trafford

Jose Mourinho (right) and Arsene Wenger being kept apart by the fourth official Jonathan Moss during a Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge two years ago.
Jose Mourinho (right) and Arsene Wenger being kept apart by the fourth official Jonathan Moss during a Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge two years ago.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • The next chapter in one of the Premier League's most volatile managerial rivalries will be written this weekend when Arsene Wenger's Arsenal visit Jose Mourinho's Manchester United.

Sparks often fly when the pair are obliged to share a touchline, typified by a notorious shoving match during a Chelsea-Arsenal fixture at Stamford Bridge two years ago.

Wenger has never beaten Mourinho in the league and has been branded a "specialist in failure" by his Portuguese nemesis, but with Arsenal six points above United, he currently has the upper hand.

He said: "You know, we didn't lose always. We have beaten them and there were many draws as well.

"I think I have won against every manager in the world during my 20 years here and I do not make of this game a competition between two managers.

"It's between two clubs and two teams. I can understand that people want to create controversy, but it's not that that makes the audience."

Wenger intends to make a late check on the fitness of Alexis Sanchez, who returned yesterday from international duty after scoring twice for Chile despite a heavily strapped thigh.

Wenger said: "I know him so well, like all my players that I observe every day, so I will be able to see if he was playing with a restriction or not.

"But the first goal he scored he ran from the halfway line and resisted two defenders - if you are really injured with a hamstring you cannot do that.

"It is a very difficult one because I am sure he will come back saying he is all right."

Arsenal will be definitely be without right-back Hector Bellerin and central midfielder Santi Cazorla, who have ankle and Achilles problems respectively.

But Wenger's selection problems pale in comparison to Mourinho, amid reports the United manager could be without up to seven first-team players.

Victory for Arsenal would lift Wenger's side to the top of the standings and leave United a yawning nine points off the pace.

Goalkeeper Petr Cech told Arsenal Player: "It is always a big game, regardless of the positions of both teams in the table. This time I think it could be a really significant win for us."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2016, with the headline 'Feuding managers ready for feisty reunion at Old Trafford'. Print Edition | Subscribe