Wenger shrugs off Evra barb
Arsene Wenger feels Patrice Evra has shown a lack of respect towards Arsenal for claiming they are in 'crisis'.
By Danny Wright
Last Updated: 10/12/10 8:09pm
Arsene Wenger feels Patrice Evra has shown a lack of respect towards his Arsenal team for claiming they are in 'crisis'.
The Manchester United defender also branded the Gunners a 'training centre' in a dig at the Londoners' apparent lack of substance.
Evra's claims about 'crisis' were reference to the club's trophyless run - which currently spans five years.
Evra made the comments in an interview with French television ahead of the two teams meeting at Old Trafford on Monday night.
Arsenal go into the match top of the Premier League ahead of second-placed United after victory over Fulham. United had their match at Blackpool postponed.
Wenger refused to be baited on the remarks, insisting they served no purpose, but did admit the left-back's outburst amounted to a disrespectful attack on his team.
The Arsenal manager said: "He gave you some good stuff to make it all hot before the game. We are guided by the way we want to play football and not by the statements of anybody who plays against us.
"Personally, I believe if you are a big player you always respect your opponent and that is what we try to do."
Asked if Evra had been disrespectful, the Gunners manager said: "I leave that judgement to you. We do not want to go into any unneeded talking before a game like that.
"We want to focus on the way we want to play and ignore any provocation before a game. We are motivated by the desire to win the game and by the quality of the football we want to play."
Relations have struggled to climb above cordial in the past, with the 'Pizzagate' storm of 2004 resembling a low-point in dealings between the two teams.
Wenger and Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson have also had acrimonious dealings in the past but recent signs suggest the two have got on better.
Wenger, though, has been on the receiving end of hurtful barbs from United supporters in the past, however he is unnerved by the prospect of facing a packed Old Trafford.
He added: "I said you want to respect everybody and to be respected as well. That's why whenever Manchester United come to Arsenal we always invite our fans to respect him and respect our players. I cannot do more than that.
"You know what happened over the years. I believe in individual responsibility of what you do in life. I cannot master 70,000 or 80,000 people. I try to do my job that is all."
Wenger believes his and Ferguson's respective long-term reigns have helped them develop an understanding of the difficulties faced by managers.
He explained: "That's maybe what you call 'mellowing'. But what is important is that it's not Ferguson v Wenger, it's Manchester United v Arsenal.
"What is important is how well both teams will play and all the ingredients are there for an exciting game, that's what we want to produce."
Meanwhile, Wenger will assess the fitness of captain Cesc Fabregas before making a last-minute decision as to whether to play the Spaniard.
"We will not take an unreasonable gamble, that is for sure, even if it is a big game," the Arsenal boss said. "We have to assess if it is a risk for him to play, is he ready to play in a very intense game, then I will make a decision.
"But overall I am more focused on the team performance than on any individual performance, You know you only win any big game if the whole team competes well."