herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Wenger: 'I will shake Jose's hand'

Arsenal boss to 'respect' ritual greeting as old foes go head-to-head again

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho, during his time as Chelsea manager,
square up during a Premier League match back in October 2014
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho, during his time as Chelsea manager, square up during a Premier League match back in October 2014

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will go head-to-head with his old adversary Jose Mourinho tomorrow, but insists he will shake the hand of the 'Special One' before the battle for three precious Premier League points commences.

With Arsenal able to go top of the table and United looking for a win to keep hold of the coat-tails of the top four, the game itself will be an intriguing affair.

And Wenger is keen for all interest to remain on the pitch, rather than ramping up the relationship between himself and Mourinho - a man he has never beaten in the Premier League.

"You know, we didn't lose always - you present that," he said of his record against the ex-Chelsea boss.

"We have beaten them and there was 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.

Arsenal’s star man Alexis Sanchez returns from international duty today in time for tomorrow’s Premier League clash with Manchester United
Arsenal’s star man Alexis Sanchez returns from international duty today in time for tomorrow’s Premier League clash with Manchester United

CONTROVERSY

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

"I think it's important that it's a top level game because that will be watched all over the world and for the reputation of the Premier League, it's important that the quality of the game is good. That will be down to the players who are on the pitch."

Wenger did nothing to hide the fact that his relationship with Mourinho is anything less than fractious, adding: "Look, I don't think I have to describe our relationship. He will fight for his team and I will fight for my team and I think that's completely normal."

When asked if he would shake his rival's hand before the game, the Arsenal boss added: "Of course. I respect the ritual that is so important in the Premier League."

Wenger, meanwhile, will ask Alexis Sanchez for an honest assessment of his fitness ahead of the clash at Old Trafford.

The Arsenal boss said it could be a "suicidal decision" for Sanchez to play in Chile's World Cup qualifying win over Uruguay ahead of the match as he was struggling with a hamstring problem he picked up earlier in the international break.

But the 27-year-old started and played 84 minutes, scoring twice in the 3-1 win, and will not return to Arsenal's London Colney training base until today.

The Frenchman will talk to Sanchez to see whether he feels fit and ready to face the Red Devils, with the former Barcelona forward again pushing to play as Arsenal's central striker.

"I haven't heard a lot because we were in doubt 24 hours before the game against Uruguay," Wenger said about Sanchez's fitness.

"We didn't know if he'd play or not. In the end they decided to play him. He texted us to tell us he's in good shape after the game. He came off after 84 minutes and now we have to wait. I see him tomorrow morning and then I will see if he can be involved in the squad or not.

"What I will consider is the risk of injury because he played while recovering from a hamstring injury. I'll consider the way he feels as well. On that front you depend on the honesty of the player, how they feel and how they recover."

While Sanchez is pushing to be involved, Wenger confirmed there would be no return for Santi Cazorla and also revealed Hector Bellerin faces a month on the sidelines with an ankle injury.

Cazorla has been missing with an Achilles problem and has not featured since the 6-0 Champions League win over Ludogorets last month, but Bellerin's issue came after a challenge late on in the north London derby draw before the international break.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News