When Arsenal face Manchester United in a
crucial Premier League clash on Saturday, the
antics of the two sworn enemies on the
touchline will take up as much attention as the
It was ever thus when Arsenal boss Arsene
Wenger and United manager Jose Mourinho lock
The acrimony between Wenger and Mourinho
stretches back to the arrival of the Portuguese
coach in England 13 years ago.
Verbal volleys have been traded time and again,
with the enmity once boiling over into a
memorable mid-match bout of shoving.
Even now, with Wenger 68, and Mourinho 54,
neither boss seems ready to act their age.
Why do the old foes hate each other so much?
Here AFP Sports looks back at the roots of the
rivalry and recalls some of their more
When Mourinho joined Chelsea in 2004, his brash
personality didn’t take long to ruffle Wenger, who
as one of the game’s established force, didn’t
take kindly to being threatened by the young
While Mourinho adopted a deferential attitude
around Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson,
there would be no such respect shown to
When Wenger took a shot at Chelsea by claiming
they might have lost belief after a couple of poor
results in 2005-06 season, Mourinho went on the
offensive with a memorable, if unkind, description
of the Arsenal manager.
“I think he is one of these people who is a
voyeur. He likes to watch other people,” he said.
“There are some guys who, when they are at
home, they have a big telescope to see what
happens in other families. He speaks and speaks
and speaks about Chelsea.”
The saying goes that opposites attract, but the
contrast between the urbane Wenger and the
spiky Mourinho couldn’t be more obvious and
neither has been willing to end the cold war.
The differences between the rivals’ approach to
their careers are striking.
Former Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Porto coach
Mourinho has never lasted more than three years
anywhere, while Wenger is in the 21st year of his
Wenger took a holistic approach to his root and
branch rebuild of Arsenal and has produced
some of the most eye-catching teams in English
football history, but when results suffered his
stubborn refusal to tinker with his purist
principles was costly.
Mourinho prefers to shock and awe, hammering
away at perceived threats both inside and
outside his clubs until they bend to his will — the
results have been remarkable but on occasions
his acerbic tongue has proved his downfall when
players start to tune him out.
Three words delivered in typically witheringly
fashion by Mourinho struck at the heart of
Wenger’s weakness in February 2014.
Arsenal had gone eight years without a trophy
under Wenger at the point, while Mourinho was
back at Chelsea having hoovered up silverware
across the world.
In a pointed jibe at Mourinho, the Gunners chief
claimed Premier League bosses were playing
down their title chances because they “fear to
Mourinho came back with all guns blazing,
saying: “He is a specialist in failure, I’m not.
“The reality is he’s a specialist because, eight
years without a piece of silverware, that’s failure.
If I did that in Chelsea I’d leave London and not
Furious after Chelsea defender Gary Cahill’s ugly
tackle on Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez in the first
half of a spiteful London derby, Wenger came
out of his technical area to remonstrate with
referee Martin Atkinson.
Mourinho didn’t miss the chance to have his say
and Wenger responded with a shove in the chest
of his rival, who stumbled before regaining his
balance and pointing to tell the Frenchman to
get back to the bench.
The pair clashed again seconds later with the
fourth official Jonathan Moss stepping in to
With Chelsea winning the October 2014 meeting
2-0 to inflict the Gunners’ first league defeat of
the season, it was no surprise there was no
handshake between the bosses at full-time.