Arsene Wenger says he is not interested in reading a new book, which claims Jose Mourinho once said he wanted to “break his face”.
Wenger and Mourinho were involved in several very public disagreements during the Portuguese’s two spells in charge of Chelsea, which culminated in the pair clashing on the touchline at Stamford Bridge last season.
Mourinho, now in charge at Manchester United, is the subject of a new biography, Jose Mourinho, Up close and personal, which details alleged conversations with football journalist Rob Beasley – including a mention of an angry exchange surrounding Wenger which reportedly ended with Mourinho saying: “I will find him one day outside a football pitch and I will break his face.”
When the quote was put to him at Friday’s press conference, the Arsenal manager said he was not in “a destructive mode”, was totally focused on Saturday’s Premier League match against Chelsea on Saturday and would
only talk about football matters
Wenger said: “Look, I haven’t read the book and I certainly will not read it so I cannot comment on that.
“I talk about football and that’s all I do. I’m not in the destructive mode, never. I am more constructive.
“I cannot comment on that because I am focused on tomorrow’s game and on the way we play football.”
Wenger’s side will be out to claim their first league win over their London rivals since October 2011. The Gunners did beat Chelsea in last season’s Community Shield but that is their only success in 11 games over them in all competitions.
Asked if he felt the rivalry between the clubs is now less intense with Mourinho no longer in the opposing dug-out, Wenger said: “Not really. Honestly, for me it was always just a big game, an important game. The personal rivalry was never, in my head, a concern.
“What is always important is it was a big game. Chelsea, in the last 10 years, have had very strong teams. You realise that today as well.
“Before that period, we were always beating them and after they were always the stronger team for a few years. Now it looks like it’s a new era where it’s a big more balanced again.
“We feel we are progressing at the moment so we have a good opportunity to change what I call the inconvenient facts of the recent years.”
The game will bring Wenger up against Antonio Conte and the Frenchman has been impressed by the impact the Italian has made since he arrived at Chelsea this summer.
He oversaw wins in each of his first four games but has since seen his team draw at Swansea, lose to Liverpool and then have to come back from 2-0 down to beat Leicester 4-2 in the EFL Cup.
Wenger said: “He is doing well. They have started in a very strong way and after that they slowed down a little bit against Swansea.
“Of course, they had the big game against Liverpool that they lost but I think Liverpool had a strong start and a strong first half. [Chelsea] nearly came back in the second half so he has done well.”