Belfast Telegraph

Arsene Wenger ready to end war with Jose Mourinho

 

By Jim Van Wijk

Arsene Wenger says he is ready to make peace with long-term rival Jose Mourinho.

The Arsenal boss has never beaten Mourinho in the Premier League but will be hoping to strike lucky at the 13th attempt when the Portuguese takes his Manchester United side to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

The pair have clashed both verbally and physically since Mourinho's arrival at Chelsea in 2004 and their touchline antics have long-been a sideshow to any meeting of their respective teams.

Sunday's game is arguably bigger for Wenger, who has still yet to announce whether he will sign a new deal to remain at Arsenal beyond the end of the current season.

Mourinho visits either side of a Europa League semi-final clash with Celta Vigo and, despite United still harbouring their own ambitions of a top-four finish, he said on Wednesday he may rest some of his key players on Sunday.

But away from the pitch, Wenger is prepared to call a truce with Mourinho, in a similar way as he did with Sir Alex Ferguson when the pair were fighting for titles. Asked if his relationship with the former United boss mellowed over time, Wenger replied: "Mellowed? Yes. We have respect.

When questioned on whether amicable ground could be found with Mourinho, he said: "I am open always in life for everything, you know, for peace."

Heading into this weekend, Arsenal are sixth with their visitors just a place above them in fifth, with Wenger admitting other clubs have now caught up with the duo.

"It just shows that everybody has moved up," he said.

United's fate immediately after Ferguson retired has often been portrayed as a warning for what Arsenal could expect when Wenger leaves. The Red Devils have made the top four only once in the three full seasons since his departure, despite spending vast sums of money.

But Wenger said: "It can as well go better from when I leave one day.

Wenger was adamant Arsenal would not shift their summer transfer targets if they failed to make the Champions League and claimed he would follow Mourinho in taking the Europa League seriously. The Frenchman added: "It means we focus on the same players. I take every competition seriously. The only thing I always did over the years was to use the League Cup to give chances to young players. We always treated all the other competitions seriously."

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