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Dec 20, 2013

Wenger: Mou relationship respectful

Arsene Wenger has said he has a "respectful" relationship with Jose Mourinho and that there is no "personal battle" with the Chelsea manager, with whom he has exchanged barbs in the past.

• Mourinho concerned by form
• Gunners' Koscielny a major doubt
• Worrall: Defence best form of attack?

Speaking as he looked ahead to Monday's Arsenal-Chelsea clash, the Arsenal manager also offered support to managers under pressure, saying he felt "surprise" at the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas by Tottenham and the pressure Malky Mackay is facing at Cardiff City.

The Arsenal coach has previously had a fractious relationship with Mourinho -- with the Chelsea boss labelling him a "voyeur" in 2005 -- but Wenger said there was now respect.

"Look, it's not a personal battle," he explained. "We had some big games in the past, but what is important for me is that I am completely focused on Arsenal Football Club and on my team and doing well.

"Whether we play Monday night against Chelsea or anybody else, for me it's exactly the same -- because what is at stake for us is to get back to winning habits.

"We spent time [together] at Geneva at the managers' meeting. Once you are in competition it is different. Once you are out of competition, everybody is different. This is competition time, so everybody fights for his team and his club."

Wenger said he was not necessarily friends with the rest of the Premier League managers, but that he felt disappointment when he saw so many under pressure.

He described the situation surrounding Mackay as "strange" -- "from outside I think the manager is doing a very good job there," he said -- and expressed some sympathy for Villas-Boas.

"He has the highest percentage rate of wins historically at the club," he said. "Is it an internal problem with the relationship with his chairman or with the board? I don't know. Is it an emotional reaction to a big defeat at home? I hope not, because that would not be a good sign. I was surprised.

"I sympathise with everyone, because you need to be a manager to know how much you suffer, how many sleepless nights are behind every manager and how much everybody wants to win. Of course you feel sympathy for people who lose their job.

"There are some countries where the instability of managers is chronic. After what happens, you have no quality any more because people with quality do not go into jobs where they are sacked every three weeks for ridiculous reasons.

"It's very important for the quality of the game that there is a certain stability. We all know that it [the threat of the sack] is part of our job when things don't work. But you have as well to be careful that it's just not based on emotional reactions."

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