Friday 18 August 2017

Mourinho's fixture moan cuts no ice with Wenger

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger coming under pressure to accept big changes to the club's structure...but he is no mood to accept them
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger coming under pressure to accept big changes to the club's structure...but he is no mood to accept them

Jeremy Wilson

Arsene Wenger has claimed that he would be willing one day to make "peace" with his long-standing rival Jose Mourinho but he has dismissed the Manchester United manager's complaints about his side's fixture demands.

Mourinho has repeatedly referenced his club's schedule following nine matches in April and potentially another seven this month, but Wenger says that top teams should want additional games at this stage of the season.

He is also not accepting Mourinho's suggestion that United could be weakened against Arsenal on Sunday by prioritising their Europa League semi-final with Celta Vigo.

"They have a massive squad with quality players," said Wenger. "A hectic schedule is what you want. That shows you are in the competitions. If you have no big injuries, we are all equipped now in the Premier League to deal with that.

"If you look at the benches of the teams that are between 10th and 20th, there are still top players on the bench at every single club. No matter who plays, they will have a strong team out."

Damaging

Wenger will be attempting to buck two damaging trends on Sunday. He has still never defeated Mourinho in 15 competitive matches and, of the top-flight's top seven, his team have beaten only Chelsea in the league this season.

Wenger attempted yesterday to draw a distinction between his club's home and away form, admitting that they have "faded" away from the Emirates.

The home atmosphere will again be tense, with Arsenal fans divided over whether Wenger should stay and the two managers having made no secret of their mutual antipathy.

As well as their various verbal exchanges, Wenger once shoved Mourinho during a confrontation at Stamford Bridge and has refused to shake his rival's hand on several occasions.

Wenger's relationship with Alex Ferguson was once similarly fractious but ultimately mellowed.

"We have respect," said Wenger. "I try to respect everybody and I do not want to make a case of any person."

Could his relationship with Mourinho also thaw?

"I am open in life for everything," said Wenger. "You know, for peace. But what is important when you are a competitor is that you give absolutely everything to win the next game."

Wenger had said a decision on his future would be confirmed by last month but he and the club are delaying on confirming whether he will sign a new two-year contract. A top-four finish, he said, is "not necessarily" the deciding factor. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport