Arsene Wenger is willing to let bygones be bygones.
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Arsenal head to Manchester United on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a massive Premier League clash as Wenger and his old pal Jose Mourinho renew their rivalry.
Speaking to the media ahead of the game, Wenger confirmed he will shake Mourinho’s hand. That’s something he didn’t do following the FA Community Shield last August which was was the latest in a long line of bitter exchanges between the managers.
“Of course. I respect the ritual that is so important in the Premier League,” Wenger confirmed when asked if he’d shake Mourinho’s hand.
Wenger was also asked to describe the relationship between him and Mourinho but dodged that question and put the onus on the players.
“I don’t think I have to describe our relationship,” Wenger said. “He will fight for his team and I will fight for mine. That’s completely normal. I do not make these games a competition between two managers. I can understand people want to create controversy, but it’s not that that makes the audience. What will make the audience is the quality of the game. It’s important it’s a top-level game for the reputation of the Premier League. That will be down to the players on the pitch.”
From Mourinho calling Wenger a “specialist in failure” and Wenger pushing Mourinho on the sidelines, their rivalry has intensified over previous years and that spilled over into games between Chelsea and Arsenal.
Arsenal had Kieran Gibbs sent off at Chelsea in 2014 in a 6-0 win for the Blues and then Gabriel and Santi Cazorla were both sent off in 2015 as Chelsea won again, this time 2-0 in Wenger’s 1000th game in charge of Arsenal.
Wenger would surely love nothing more than to keep Arsenal’s unbeaten streak of 10 Premier League games going and also beat Mourinho’s United to pile more pressure on the Portuguese manager early on in his time in charge at Old Trafford.
There’s just one small thing to consider: Mourinho has never lost to Wenger in 11 Premier League encounters and has only lost once (in an FA Community Shield game last August) in 15 games in all competitions against Arsenal as a manager.