Arsene Wenger may have finally banished his hoodoo against Jose Mourinho but was in no mood to engage in verbal sparring with his old enemy as they prepare to meet again.
When Arsenal beat Manchester United 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium in May it marked Wenger’s first Premier League win against Mourinho in 13 attempts.
United are back in North London on Saturday as Wenger’s team search for a 13th successive home win in the league after smashing five past Huddersfield on Wednesday.
Arsene Wenger doesn’t expect anything special when he faces Jose Mourinho this weekend
Seldom in recent years have preparations been so serene for the Arsenal boss and he was determined to keep it that way as questions turned to Mourinho.
‘I don’t expect anything special,’ said Wenger. ‘Man United is a strong team and I expect us just to cope with the problems they will give us. They will attack as well. They will not only defend.
‘They are a dangerous team, they have made fantastic results, so to beat a team like that you need to be at your best. It is not down to me to judge the way they play.
‘I just want to focus and to prepare well my team, and give my team a good chance to win the game. Man United is doing well at the moment, we are doing well at the moment. So it looks to be a promising game.’
The pair have a fraught history and have been involved in touchline scuffles in the past
Arsenal are fourth, four points behind United in second and there is extra spice supplied by Mourinho’s interest in Mesut Ozil, who was outstanding against Huddersfield and out of contract at the end of the season.
‘Look, that’s all speculation,’ said Wenger. ‘You cannot interfere with that.
‘There is only one way to show how much you are committed and that is your attitude on the pitch. When you see him play, one thing you cannot question is the way he wants to play for the team.
‘Let’s first go towards Saturday and after in January we see what happens. But I just spoke about that in the last press conference and nothing has changed.’
At the previous press conference, Wenger said he did not expect either Ozil or Alexis Sanchez, also out of contract at the end of the season and wanted by Manchester City, to be sold in January.
This week he cancelled his routine briefing at the training ground and replaced it with a hasty couple of minutes after his comments on the game against Huddersfield, making it so much easier to shrug off unwanted questions about his long and bitter rivalry with Mourinho.
Arsenal had just completed their ‘Invincibles’ season and Wenger had won his third Premier League title when Mourinho arrived in English football, joining Chelsea from Porto in 2004.
Since then, Mourinho has won three titles to Wenger’s none and many insults have been traded, although recently in one direction more than the other.
Arsenal are in good form but will be without £53million record-signing Alex Lacazette who injured a groin muscle against Huddersfield.
Wenger ruled him out of the United game but was not concerned.
‘We have offensive weapons, you know,’ he said. ‘We have Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere who all came on and they are all offensive players.
‘I will see what I do for Saturday but ideally you wanted him there.
‘Everybody else looks to be OK, yes. Sanchez had a little hamstring problem and that’s why I took him off but I think he will be alright.’