Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says he is ready “for peace” with Jose Mourinho as the two managers renew their long-
standing rivalry this weekend.Wenger and Mourinho have clashed for years and the feud even got physical once when Wenger pushed his counterpart during a game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho will visit Emirates Stadium on Sunday for the first time since taking over as Manchester United manager, and can expect a frosty reception from the home crowd.
But having seen his relationship with long-time United rival Sir Alex Ferguson turn more courteous toward the end, Wenger would not rule out the same happening with Mourinho.
“Look, I’m always open in life for everything, for peace,” Wenger told a news conference on Thursday. “I try to respect everybody, and I don’t want to make a case of any person. I think it’s important I focus on my team.”
This could be a golden opportunity for Wenger to finally get a first Premier League victory over Mourinho, who has indicated he may field a weakened team on Sunday because of the team’s Europa League semifinal and a number of injuries.
“I don’t know what Manchester United will do. We know anyway that they have a massive squad with quality players. Only a top-level performance will get us the win we want,” he said.
United and Arsenal both need a win to keep their top-four hopes alive, which means Wenger expects Mourinho to take a more attack-minded approach than he showed in the drab 0-0 draw against Manchester City recently.”I believe they will certainly try to be defensively solid but they will try to win the game as well,” Wenger said. “For them it is like for us, both teams are in the position where they have to win the game to have a little chance to be in the top four.”
Arsenal are likely to be without midfielder Granit Xhaka, who still has a swollen ankle from last Sunday’s 2-0 loss at Tottenham. However, centre-back Shkodran Mustafi is back in full training and could give Arsenal’s defence a boost.
After that dispiriting loss to Spurs, a win over United would certainly help lift Arsenal’s spirits going into the final stretch of the season. But Wenger said their league situation simply means every game is now a must-win situation.
“Of course every big game boosts your confidence, but for us more than focusing on the fact it is Manchester United, a big club and a big rivalry over the years, what is important is to have the chance to achieve our target,” he said. “We have no choice, we have to beat them.”