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Mourinho hopes to face Wenger again after Old Trafford farewell

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (centre) is greeted by former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson (left) and current boss Jose Mourinho during a presentation before their English Premier League match at Old Trafford on Sunday. AFP
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (centre) is greeted by former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson (left) and current boss Jose Mourinho during a presentation before their English Premier League match at Old Trafford on Sunday. AFP

Mourinho hopes to face Wenger again after Old Trafford farewell

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho hopes he gets the chance to face Arsene Wenger again after the outgoing Arsenal manager’s final visit to Old Trafford as Gunners’ boss ended in a 2-1 defeat on Sunday.

Wenger was greeted by former United boss Alex Ferguson and Mourinho before kick-off and even presented with a glass momento.

However, Wenger was left empty-handed when it came to points as defeat left sixth-placed Arsenal mathematically out of the race for a top-four finish.

Marouane Fellaini rose highest to flick home the winner in stoppage time after Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s second-half strike against his former club had cancelled out Paul Pogba’s early opener.

“I hope I play against him again,” said Mourinho, who has a history of spats with Wenger, most famously describing the Frenchman as a “specialist in failure” for his inability to win the Premier League since 2003/04.

“I hope that can happen again. If not in the Premier League, who knows [where] we can have a big match somewhere?”

United have now sealed their place in the Champions League next season and moved closer to their target of finishing at least second best to champions Manchester City by opening a five-point gap on Liverpool.

“Ok progress at many levels, but [it’s] not enough to be first instead of second and not enough to win the Champions League instead of the Europa League,” added Mourinho.

“It’s enough to finish second, to be stable, to win some trophies, to reach some finals, but we need more.”

‘Classy’ gesture

Ferguson told the United website ahead of the game that his clashes for many years with Wenger’s strongest Arsenal sides over a decade ago “made the Premier League”.

But it was a sign of how far Arsenal have fallen that Wenger made eight changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Europa League semifinal on Thursday as he had already given up hope of a top-four finish.

“It goes to show you, once you are not a danger any more, people love you,” said Wenger on his fond farewell from the United fans.

“I am thankful to Manchester United. They had a nice gesture before the game, it was the first time I got a trophy before the game. It was very classy from them.

“I want to have a glass of wine now with Sir Alex because he has always good wine.”

Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini (centre) celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's late winner. AFP
Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini (centre) celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's late winner. AFP

Alexis Sanchez in January became the latest of a number of leading Arsenal players to leave towards the end of Wenger’s reign in search of more success and more money.

And in his first appearance against his former club, the Chilean was heavily involved in the opening goal on 16 minutes.

Romelu Lukaku picked out Sanchez at the back post and after his header was deflected onto his own post by Hector Bellerin, Pogba had the simple task of tapping into an unguarded net.

Wenger included club record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan, who was the makeweight for Sanchez to move in the other direction, among a side littered with youngsters.

Mkhitaryan dragged a shot from the edge of the box just wide before Aubameyang’s tame header was too close to David de Gea.

United suffered a blow at the start of the second period when Lukaku limped off to be replaced by Marcus Rashford.

And the hosts soon also lost their lead when Mkhitaryan pounced on some slack United defending to fire across De Gea into the bottom corner to muted celebrations despite enduring a troubled 18 months under Mourinho before joining the Gunners.

United struggled to create in their search for a winner, but Arsenal failed to heed their warning when Rashford was denied by the offside flag after Fellaini’s header came off the post a minute from time.

Moments later Fellaini rose highest once more to meet Ashley Young’s cross and the Belgian’s looping header found the far corner to leave Arsenal still without a point away from home in the Premier League this year.

Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan runs with the ball past French Manchester United star Paul Pogba. The Armenian scored the Gunners' equaliser. AFP
Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan runs with the ball past French Manchester United star Paul Pogba. The Armenian scored the Gunners' equaliser. AFP

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