Arsene Wenger has overlooked the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea when asked to name his toughest Premier League opponent. The legendary Arsenal boss enjoyed several high-profile rivalries during his time in the Gunners dugout.
Wenger won three titles during his stay in north London, first taking on Sir Alex Ferguson’s United side and then battling with Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea team.
But when asked who his most difficult opponent was in domestic football, he instead named Joe Kinnear’s Wimbeldon.
He told BBC Sport: “Team: Wimbledon when I first came to England,” he revealed. “Players: Roy Keane and Alf-Inge Haaland – they were always tough to play against.”
In his first season in charge at Arsenal, Wenger only picked up one point against the Dons, drawing 2-2 at Selhurst Park, before losing at Highbury.
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The following season did see them get the better of the “Crazy Gang” beating them on both occasions on the way to Wenger’s first title in English football.
His most memorable managerial rivalries, Wenger admitted that while he doesn’t keep in regular contact with Mourinho or Ferguson, he still has huge respect for both.
“I rarely keep in touch because I’m not in the country a lot,” he added. “I respect them. When you’re in the competition it’s you or them so it’s always a bit aggressive.
“But after, when you meet people outside the competition, it’s not so.
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“You both suffer, you both have difficulties with your team, but you have to defend your club when you’re in there at any cost and that’s why sometimes it gets a bit out of control.
“Overall there is a respect to always talk things over.”
Since leaving Arsenal in 2018, Wenger has taken up a role with FIFA, overseeing the global development of the game, but his passion for the game remains undiminished.
“All I watch is football,” the 70-year-old admitted.
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“In the morning I watch the games that were on last night. It’s my passion.
“When you’re born, your first instinct is to survive. Then you must find the meaning of your life. My life is football.
“I grew up in a little pub where the local football team had their headquarters.
“From the age of four or five I heard people talk only about football so certainly in my mind it was the only important thing in life.”
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