Wednesday 21 March 2018

Jose Mourinho v Arsene Wenger Focus

Arsene Wenger, left, and Jose Mourinho saw their teams draw 1-1 at Old Trafford
Arsene Wenger, left, and Jose Mourinho saw their teams draw 1-1 at Old Trafford

Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger renewed their rivalry as Manchester United took on Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday.

Here, Press Association Sport analyses their performances.


Mourinho's big decision was whether to start captain Wayne Rooney after a week of negative headlines and fitness issues, and decided to put the forward on the bench. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic suspended, Marcus Rashford led the line, but the most crucial selection may have been in midfield. Michael Carrick's position alongside Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera worked effectively and suggested a way forward.

Wenger recalled Carl Jenkinson after a long spell out of the first-team reckoning in place of the injured Hector Bellerin and his lack of activity showed. The choice of Mohamed Elneny ahead of Granit Xhaka was understandable and worked fairly well until the Gunners needed to chase the game.


The match was surprisingly open and not the cagey affair some had predicted. Both sides tried to play and, with the insurance of Carrick behind him, Pogba did seem a lot freer in the United midfield, getting forward and spraying out some nice passes. Arsenal looked to hit United on the break through the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott, but they struggled to make headway after a bright start. It took some late changes for them to snatch an equaliser, and it came from their first serious attempt on goal.


Mourinho sent on Rooney just after the hour. This did not have a fundamental impact on the team, but it changed the tone of the game. The home fans welcomed the return of their skipper after a difficult week and United were lifted as a result. Juan Mata opened the scoring soon after.

The biggest decisions, however, were made by Wenger late on. His side lacked inspiration in the second half and they looked beaten until the introductions of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Olivier Giroud. The pair combined superbly for the equaliser.


The past difficulties between the pair were evident before kick-off as they greeted each other frostily, not even looking at each other as they shook hands. On the touchline Wenger was the much calmer figure, showing less emotion and spending more time on his seat. Mourinho spent most of the 90 minutes in his technical area, making perfectly clear his feelings on a number of matters, most notably the decision not to award United a penalty in the first half.


Wenger has still never beaten Mourinho in a Premier League match, but he may feel he has got one over his rival here after his changes led the Gunners snatching a point. United still played well enough, however, for Mourinho to be confident of turning the corner at Old Trafford.

Press Association

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