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Last Updated: Monday, 17 January 2005, 11:58 GMT
A history of mind games
By Jonathan Stevenson

Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson

The latest in a long line of spats between Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has escalated into a full-blown slanging match.

The Gunners' chief wants Ferguson to be charged by the Football Association for comments he made on Saturday about the Frenchman in the aftermath of United's 2-0 win at Old Trafford in October.

Ferguson had claimed Wenger was calling his players "cheats" in the tunnel and ran towards him in a threatening manner.

Since Wenger arrived at Highbury on 30 September 1996, the pair have been locked in an on-going feud as their teams have almost exclusively battled it out for English football's bragging rights.

BBC Sport takes a look at the most high-profile examples of the bad blood between the two most successful managers in the history of the Premiership.

ARSENE WENGER
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
"It's wrong the programme is extended so Man Utd can rest and win everything"
- 3 April, 1997.

With United in the semi-finals of the Champions League and fixtures piling up, Ferguson requested an extension to the Premiership season to give his players more time to rest.

Having succeeded in getting the support of the majority of the top flight teams, Ferguson was astonished when Wenger criticised the Premier League for acceding to his demands.

SIR ALEX FERGUSON
Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson
"They are scrappers who rely on belligerence - we are the better team"
- After Arsenal's 2002 Double-winning season

The Gunners bagged a brilliant Double in 2002 and Ferguson's bemusing response - despite the 10-point gap between the teams - indicated his dislike for Wenger's team.

ARSENE WENGER
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
"I am still hopeful we can go through the season unbeaten"
- Wenger, 28 September 2002

After winning the Double in 2002, Wenger set his sights even higher and admitted he thought his side was good enough to go through the 38 league games without losing.

The comment put unwanted pressure on the Gunners and they folded in the final month of the season to hand the title to United by five points.

SIR ALEX FERGUSON
Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson
"They got away with murder. What the Arsenal players did was the worst I have witnessed in sport"
- A year after the infamous Old Trafford match in September 2003

If the Scot wanted to stoke the fires ahead of the Premiership encounter that week, his comments certainly had the desired effect.

Arsenal had four players suspended and fines totalling 275,000 in one of the biggest crackdowns in English club football, but that had still not satisfied Ferguson.

SIR ALEX FERGUSON
Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson
"In the tunnel Wenger was criticising my players, calling them cheats. Arsenal are the worst losers of all time"
- Three months after United's 2-0 win

The canny Scot chose to bide his time before launching into a furious assualt on Wenger and the Arsenal players for their behaviour after losing their record.

Ferguson claimed he was trying to "set the record straight" after Arsenal failed to apologise for the events that followed their defeat.

SIR ALEX FERGUSON
Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson
"He's a novice and should keep his opinions to Japanese football"
- The reply, two days later

The United boss's response suggested Wenger should not dare to challenge his authority as the leading manager in England after his arrival from Nagoya Grampus Eight just six months before as a virtual unknown.

United went on to win the Premiership by a comfortable seven points with Arsenal finishing back in third.

ARSENE WENGER
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
"Everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife at home
- Wenger's acerbic response to Ferguson's baiting

Wenger's retort ended that particular war of words and Ferguson was forced into making an embarrassing apology, claiming his comments had been made "off the record".

SIR ALEX FERGUSON
Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson
"I'm sure they'd love to turn the clock back - it might come back to haunt them"
- Ferguson, April 2003

Ferguson openly scoffed at Wenger's suggestion - after all, he had seen his teams dominate the 1990s and not come anywhere near achieving such a feat.

The following season, of course, Arsenal did manage to go unbeaten - but Ferguson had enjoyed their collapse with relish the year before.

ARSENE WENGER
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
"Maybe it would be better if you have put us up against a wall and shot us all. I hope that he will calm down
- Wenger's attempt to calm the situation

Wenger had seen his team not only remain unbeaten since the Old Trafford contest but considerably improve their disciplinary record in the process.

But Ferguson's decision to bring back a dark moment from his reign at Highbury riled the Frenchman and his side slipped to a 2-0 defeat days later.

ARSENE WENGER
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
"I will never answer any questions any more about this man. In England you have a good phrase. It is 'bringing the game into disrepute'"
- Wenger's reply

Furious with Ferguson for yet again bringing up the past, Wenger this time appears to have lost patience with his counterpart.

The Gunners' boss has seen his side slip 10 points behind Chelsea in the title race and another war of words with Ferguson is the last thing he will want.




VOTE RESULTS
What's your reaction to the row between Wenger and Ferguson?
Entertaining and intriguing
35%
Damaging for them, their clubs and football in general
29%
Couldn't care less!
36%
49904 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Vote now closed






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