Wenger, Mour­inho set for Old Traf­ford re­union

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LONDON: The next chap­ter in one of the Premier League’s most volatile man­age­rial ri­val­ries will be writ­ten this week­end when Arsene Wenger’s Arse­nal visit Jose Mour­inho’s Manch­ester United.

Sparks of­ten fly when the pair are obliged to share a touch­line, typ­i­fied by a no­to­ri­ous shov­ing match dur­ing a Chelsea-Arse­nal fix­ture at Stam­ford Bridge two years ago.

Wenger has never beaten Mour­inho in the league and has been branded a “spe­cial­ist in fail­ure” by his Por­tuguese neme­sis, but with Arse­nal six points above United, he cur­rently has the up­per hand.

“You know, we didn’t lose al­ways,” Wenger said when asked about his record against Mour­inho on Thurs­day.

“We have beaten them and there were many draws as well. I think I have won against ev­ery man­ager in the world dur­ing my 20 years here and I do not make of this game a com­pe­ti­tion be­tween two man­agers. “It’s be­tween two clubs and two teams. I can un­der­stand that peo­ple want to cre­ate con­tro­versy, but it’s not that that makes the au­di­ence. “I think it’s im­por­tant that it’s a top-level game be­cause that will be watched all over the world and for the rep­u­ta­tion of the Premier League, it’s im­por­tant that the qual­ity of the game is good.” Wenger in­tends to make a late check on the fit­ness of Alexis Sanchez, who is not due to re­port back from in­ter­na­tional duty with Chile.

Sanchez scored twice for Chile in a 3-1 World Cup qual­i­fy­ing win over Uruguay on Tues­day, de­spite Wenger warn­ing be­fore­hand it would be “sui­ci­dal” for him to play due to a ham­string prob­lem.

Arse­nal will be def­i­nitely be with­out right-back Hec­tor Bel­lerin and cen­tral mid­fielder Santi Ca­zorla, who have an­kle and Achilles prob­lems re­spec­tively.

But Wenger’s se­lec­tion prob­lems pale by com­par­i­son be­side Mour­inho’s, amid re­ports the United man­ager could be with­out up to seven first-team play­ers. Cen­tre-backs Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling will miss the game through in­jury, along with sus­pended top scorer Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic. There also fit­ness doubts over cap­tain Wayne Rooney, mid­fielder Marouane Fel­laini and full-backs An­to­nio Va­len­cia and Luke Shaw.

With Sat­ur­day’s game tak­ing place at lunchtime, vic­tory for Arse­nal would lift Wenger’s side to the top of the stand­ings and leave United a yawn­ing nine points off the pace. Liver­pool, the cur­rent lead­ers, will look to pick up where they left off prior to the in­ter­na­tional break when they visit Southamp­ton later to­day.

Jur­gen Klopp’s crowd-pleas­ing side have won seven and drawn two of their last nine league games, cul­mi­nat­ing in a 61 de­mo­li­tion of Wat­ford last time out.

Adam Lal­lana is likely to miss out for Liver­pool af­ter sus­tain­ing a groin in­jury dur­ing Eng­land’s 2-2 friendly draw with Spain on Tues­day, in which he scored.

But Klopp is hope­ful Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino will both be able to fea­ture af­ter jet­ting back from in­ter­na­tional duty with Brazil.

—AFP

LONDON: A com­bi­na­tion of pic­tures cre­ated in London yes­ter­day show Manch­ester United’s Por­tuguese man­ager Jose Mour­inho (L) ar­riv­ing for the Eng­lish League Cup fourth round match be­tween Manch­ester United and Manch­ester City at Old Traf­ford in Manch­ester, north west Eng­land on Oc­to­ber 26, 2016 and Arse­nal’s French man­ager Arsene Wenger (R) watch­ing his play­ers dur­ing the Eng­lish Premier League foot­ball match be­tween As­ton Villa and Arse­nal at Villa Park in Birm­ing­ham, cen­tral Eng­land on De­cem­ber 13, 2015.

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