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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 4 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
Nov 3, 2006

Pardew insists he has no problem with Wenger

West Ham manager Alan Pardew insists he has no problem with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger - and hopes the Frenchman feels the same way about him.

Pardew voiced his disappointment last season that the Gunners were proceeding towards the Champions League final without a single Englishman, although Ashley Cole did return from injury in time to pick up a loser's medal.

Wenger had immediately hit back by suggesting there were racist undertones to such thinking and the two have not spoken since.

But Pardew insists he will be only too welcome to welcome Wenger to Upton Park on Sunday.

He said: 'I mentioned at the time it was shame there wasn't an Englishman and it got sensationalised into something completely different.

'We actually had quite a close relationship. During my time at Reading I visited him two or three times and he was very accommodating to me so I would like to think I have a nice relationship with him.

'I haven't actually seen him since saying that, although obviously I have followed them very closely because I am a great admirer of what they do over there.

'His reply was down to his frustration of how it was put to him, which was probably more severe than I had suggested.

'I haven't got a problem with Arsenal's way or with anything they do. I think they are a fantastic club, I'm looking forward to them coming and he will be the first person I shake hands with prior to the game.

'And of course I supported Arsenal in the Champions League final. It is absolutely ridiculous to suggest otherwise.'

The Hammers are far happier after last week's win over Blackburn, which ended an alarming win-less run that saw them slip in the relegation zone.

Pardew's side also did well against Arsenal last term, drawing 0-0 at home and winning 3-2 at Highbury on the night when Sol Campbell walked out at half-time.

He said: 'There have been a few more smiles around the training ground as you would expect after a win and certainly a bit of buoyancy has returned to everybody. That's what a win can do.

'It is also because of the opposition and the feeling that it is a big challenge for us - one they are relishing rather than fearing.

'In the two games last year we competed very well with Arsenal. The home game was very tight. Thierry Henry didn't play I recall but the away game he did and obviously we had a great night.

'Knowing Arsenal, that will only fuel them towards getting a better response this time but the most important thing for us is remembering last year how we approached those two games.

'We have to have the same approach because whatever set up you have you have to have a `no fear' approach.'

One off-field factor that continues to frustrate Pardew, however, is the proposed takeover by a consortium fronted by the Iranian businessman Kia Joorabchian.

It had been suggested a decision would be made on this today but no statement to the Stock Exchange was being prepared.

Joorabchian is also the man who brought Argentina internationals Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano to the club and Pardew insisted the only conversations he had held with the businessman was on the subject of those two players.

He said: 'I have seen Kia with regards to the two players as I would with any agent who controls players.

'I have touched base with him about Tevez because he has been injured and Mascherano who is not in the team at the moment but performing very well in training and in the reserve game he played.

'I have touched base with him on those issues but haven't spoken him about the takeover. I didn't think it was appropriate to be honest.'

Tevez is back in the squad following a knee injury but is unlikely to start and Mascherano has been omitted anyway for recent matches.