Arsene Wenger declined to comment on allegations that Jose Mourinho wanted to “break his face” – insisting he wishes to be “constructive” rather than “destructive”.
The claims come from a new book written about Mourinho by journalist Robert Beasley and date back to the Portuguese’s time in charge of Chelsea, when Wenger was critical of their decision to sell Juan Mata to title rivals Manchester United during the January 2014 transfer window.
Wenger will tangle with Chelsea once more at Emirates Stadium on Saturday, with Antonio Conte in the opposing dugout on this occasion, and he was faintly amused by questions surrounding Mourinho’s apparent threat of violence during a pre-match news conference on Friday.
“I haven’t read the book and I certainly will not read it so I cannot comment on that,” he said.
“I talk about football and that’s all I do. I’m not in a destructive mode, never. I’m more constructive and I cannot comment on that.
Despite Mourinho now being stationed at Old Trafford as United manager, Wenger does not believe Arsenal versus Chelsea has lost any of the lustre of recent years.
“Not really. Honestly for me it was always just a big game, an important game,” he said.
Tempers boiling over has not merely been an issue for the dugouts during this cross-London clash, with Arsenal having Gabriel, Santi Cazorla and Per Mertesacker sent off as they suffered a pair of league defeats to Chelsea last term.
“We talked about [discipline] because in the last two games against Chelsea we have played with 10 men,” Wenger explained.
“Tomorrow it is important the way we play our football, but, as well, the way we behave. Discipline and results are strongly linked and the regret from the past two games is we could not play with 11 against 11.”