Arsenal manager Wenger hopes for peaceful exit against Jose Mourinho

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28 April, 2018

Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal looks on during the UEFA Europa League Semi Final leg one match between Arsenal FC and Atletico Madrid at Emirates Stadium on April 26, 2018 in London, United Kingdom.

Wenger looked bemused when asked yesterday if he could be friends with Mourinho, eventually saying "it depends", but was also far more willing than usual to praise his rival's achievements.

'Yes, there have been some fascinating contests between Arsenal and Manchester United.

Wenger will stand down as Arsenal manager at the end of the season after nearly 22 years in charge of the north London outfit.

Ferguson's first rant about Wenger came in 1997, the year after he joined Arsenal and began ruffling feathers.

Adam Crafton of the Daily Mail has a book out entitled From Guernica to Guardiola, which examines the Spanish influence on English football.

"With Ferguson, we've seen that when he was a manger, he wasn't someone to back down".

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Jones called for a warm reception for Wenger, who has clashed with United manager Jose Mourinho in the past.

In many respects, the match feels a little insignificant here.

Inside the Theatre of Dreams, there were also the bright red warning signs signalling Arsenal's demise. "I think it is", says the former United defender.

Their verbal warfare nearly spilt over into fisticuffs in 2014 when Wenger and Mourinho clashed during Chelsea's 2-0 win over Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

Wenger is taking a big risk playing a weakened side at United as it could end in another humiliating 8-2 defeat like the one the north Londoners suffered at Old Trafford in 2011. There were light-hearted moments, too, like in 2016 when Louis Van Gaal plunged to the touchline theatrically, clipboard still in hand, to claim a dive from Alexis Sanchez. United are nestled comfortably in second place, and Arsenal are secure in sixth.

"I feel better now without it, no doubts about it, but again when I arrived in England in 2004, Arsenal was the champion and was the famous champion of The Invincibles", the Portuguese tactician added as he continued, "I arrive and for the next couple of years was with them - (Dennis) Bergkamp, Thierry (Henry) and (Sol) Campbell - an awesome team, so again, thank you very much for that". At Old Trafford, that dream has long since been replaced by the reality of what has happened since Ferguson left.

It will be interesting to see what goes on on the sidelines between Wenger and Mourinho, as the pair have never seen eye to eye.

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