On Sunday at Old Trafford there will be a new duel in the dugout taking place.
It’s been some time since that last happened.
For over 17 years Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson locked horns every season in the Premier League as Arsenal versus Manchester United became one of the biggest rivalries in PL history.
Now Fergie has departed, Wenger is the longest serving manager left in the PL and admitted it will be peculiar to not square off against his arch-nemesis of many years when his side travel to United.
“It will be a bit strange without Sir Alex Ferguson there on Sunday,” Wenger said. “David Moyes has shown great competence at Everton, so you need to leave him time to really get a grip on Manchester United, and he is slowly doing that. You see it now in the results.”
After Arsenal’s recent trophy less run and United’s constant dominance during that spell, the Gunners haven’t tasted victory at Old Trafford since 2006. This weekend perhaps presents their best chance of clinching all three points in some time, and extending their lead over the Red Devils to 11 points in the process.
The Gunners are flying high with eight wins from their first 10 games, and the manager of the current league leaders believes new boss David Moyes is handling the adjustment period at United extremely well given the decades of success Sir Alex brought.
“When someone has been there for 26 years and goes, it takes time for the guy who comes in,” Wenger said. “It is very dangerous and difficult for the manager who comes in. For me, Moyes is dealing very well with the situation.”
Flicking back in the history book to before the Ferguson era arrived at Old Trafford, Arsenal won 1-0 in 1985 as Ron Atkinson was in charge of the Red Devils.
Many will argue the first game after the Ferguson era has ended will also see the same result, a tight win for the Gunners. Wenger himself reaffirmed the belief that Arsenal can go into the cauldron of Old Trafford and return to North London with three points to extend their lead at the top of table.
It could be a defining moment in the season of both clubs.
“It is still one of the benchmarks of the season where you judge how strong you are,” Wenger said. “People analyze everything, your behavior and draw conclusions after the game. It is of course still one of the big games. You can gain confidence and credit for your behavior. We had periods where we did very well at Old Trafford and recently, yes, we have not done so well,” Wenger added. “It is a good opportunity to show that we have improved and that we can win there. That is our target, to go there and win the game.”
We shall see how it pans out but one thing is for sure, Wenger vs. Ferguson is over… now a new managerial rivalry is set to dominate the PL.