Premier League – Fergie: Arsenal means more
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted his team’s clashes with Chelsea will never carry as much meaning as those against Arsenal.
Just two days before the Red Devils face Luiz Felipe Scolari’s in-form Blues at Stamford Bridge in a clash between most people’s Premier League title favourites, Ferguson has stoked the fires by claiming Chelsea cannot match the “history and quality” of their London rivals.
The United boss’ claim may come as a surprise to the Chelsea hierarchy given it has been them who have fought United for the title for the previous four seasons – winning it for consecutive years in 2005 and 2006.
But speaking at the League Managers’ Association’s dinner for their Benevolent Trust and Community Fund at Wembley, Ferguson said: “If you look back over the last 12 or 13 years, who has it been? – Arsenal v Manchester United, Manchester United v Arsenal.
“Of course we’ve got Chelsea at the moment, that’s without question, but the history of Arsenal versus Manchester means that you’re not just talking about winning a football match, you’re talking about your own history against the other team’s history.
“There’s a dominance attached to that. You want to be the dominant team and they want to be the dominant team – and we’ve had some volatile matches because of that.
“But you can’t beat the history and the quality that both teams believe in, and the way they want to play has never changed.”
Wenger agreed with his rival’s assessment and claimed the Gunners’ matches with United were always the acid test of his players.
“It is usually the decider of the season – big games that tell you a lot about your team. Will they be capable of winning the big matches?” he said.
“You go into the season with the feeling that you must win the big games, and the big game usually is Manchester United.”