‘I was ready for the fight’ – Arsene Wenger opens up on the toxic relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson at the heart of the Arsenal v Man United rivalry

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It was the defining battle of the late 1990s and early 2000s, and there was always guaranteed to be fireworks when Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side took on Sir Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering Manchester United.

No quarter was asked or given in any match between the two teams during that era. An era which produced some of the most intense matches ever seen in the English top-flight.

If the battle was fierce on the pitch it also raged off it, with both the Frenchman and the Scot frequently clashing as they looked to acquire the slender advantages that dominating the mental aspects of the game gave them.

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Sir Alex was a master at it though he had met his match in Wenger, and even if he didn’t like it, there was surely some grudging respect there. For his part, Wenger was never overawed.

“Alex Ferguson was the dominant figure in English football. Everyone was scared of him, from the press to the referees,” he said on the Arsene Wenger: Invincible documentary, cited by the Mirror.

“I thought that’s a good opportunity for me to show that it’s not only in England that you know how to play football. I was ready for the fight.

“It was sometimes very aggressive, especially after the games. When you’re fighting to win, you are two lions. Your only one desire is to eat the lion who is against you. I was not scared of anybody in football.”

There hasn’t been a rivalry to match it since Man United’s finest ever manager decided to retire in 2013, and it’s doubtful there ever will be.

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