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Sunday 17 November 2019

Quique Sanchez Flores hails the longevity of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger has been in charge of Arsenal since September 1996
Arsene Wenger has been in charge of Arsenal since September 1996

Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores believes Arsene Wenger's 19-year managerial tenure at Arsenal would be impossible to replicate in his native Spain.

Flores will go head-to-head with Wenger for the first time in his career on Saturday evening as Watford play host to Arsenal in the Barclays Premier League.

Wenger, whose side are second in the table ahead of the clash, is set to celebrate his 20th anniversary at the club next year. In that period, Arsenal have won the title on three occasions, the last coming back in 2004.

The Gunners went nine years without silverware, but have won the FA Cup for the past two seasons, and their early form in the league suggests they will challenge for the title this term.

"In Spain it is difficult to ever think of a manager managing for 20 years," said Flores. "We live in another philosophy. We think in another philosophy. Sometimes in Spain we don't wait until the end of the season to change."

Indeed, the former Liverpool and Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez is the 18th different manager at Real Madrid since Wenger took over at Arsenal. Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge at Manchester United for 27 years before he retired in 2013.

"What Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger did is very difficult to match in other countries, it is impossible," Flores added.

"In other countries it is completely different. Times changes but it is very difficult for other managers.

"This is the first time I've faced Arsene Wenger. I respect him, the English league is like the Spanish league, we have high respect for this type of manager. He has experience and we have respect."

Watford have taken a healthy 10 points from their opening eight fixtures on their return to England's top flight, and key to their early-season stability has been the goalscoring form of Odion Ighalo.

The 26-year-old Nigeria international has scored five times this term which has taken his tally for the calendar year to 21. No other player in England has scored more times in 2015.

Ighalo, who has been nominated for September's Player of the Month prize, turned down a big-money move to China over the summer, and signed a five-year deal to remain at Vicarage Road earlier this season.

But that is unlikely to dampen the enthusiasm of any potential suitors he may have in the January transfer window, particularly if he keeps finding the back of the net. Flores, however, is not concerned.

He said: "I'm not scared about Ighalo. I'm happy with him and not thinking about what might happen in the winter market. He had the chance to go out in the summer but decided to stay here and that was an amazing decision.

"When a player plays well the value changes to buy him. But we now think Ighalo is our most important player, he is very happy and can play in different positions."

PA Media

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