Touchline clashes between managers are not uncommon. Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson used to do it all the time when the rivalry between Manchester United and Arsenal reached its peak during the 2000-2004 period. Sir Alex and Wenger would constantly hurl angry exchanges at each other on the sidelines, and it sort of became part and parcel of the United vs Arsenal war in the early 2000s.
But this is the first time I’ve seen Wenger actually lay his hands on someone else, and he did it by shoving Jose Mourinho not once, but twice in the chest.
Wenger claimed that he was walking towards Alexis Sanchez to check on his condition after the Chilean received a strong tackle from behind from Gary Cahill. Speaking to reporters after the match, this was what Wenger said:
What is there to regret?
I wanted to go from A to B and somebody [Mourinho] confronted me in between without any sign of welcome. B was Sanchez, to see how badly he was injured. Honestly, I don’t listen to what Mourinho says.
But video highlights (disclosure: the author is a freelance writer at ballball) clearly showed Wenger walking STRAIGHT towards Mourinho instead of Sanchez like he claimed. And he gave Mourinho not one, but two strong shoves in the chest. I’m not sure what Wenger’s definition of “a little shove” is, but anyone can clearly see that it was a very direct and antagonistic push on Mourinho.
Has the Professor finally lost it? The years of struggling to deliver another Premier League title for the Gunners, plus the fact that Wenger has not managed to defeat Mourinho in 12 attempts, might have pushed the Frenchman over the edge at last. Mourinho’s mind games could also have been the influence: He called Wenger “a specialist in failure” back in February this year when the Arsenal boss celebrated his 1,000th game in charge.
Sorry Wenger, you were clearly in the wrong here. He is now likely to receive a punishment from the FA for his actions, similar to Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone when he was banned eight matches for remonstrating angrily with the linesman during the Spanish Super Cup back in August.