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Dec 10, 2010

Wenger refuses to rise to Evra bait

Arsene Wenger has refused to be drawn into a war of words with Patrice Evra after the Manchester United defender stirred tensions ahead of Monday's game at Old Trafford.

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Evra, who has been critical of Arsenal in the past, suggested Wenger's men had little chance of winning trophies and likened the club to a "football training centre".

Wenger, though, said he had no interest in retaliating.

"He gave you some good stuff to make it all hot before the game," Wenger said during his weekly press conference. "We are guided by the way we want to play football and not by the statements of anybody who plays against us.

"Personally, I believe if you are a big player you always respect your opponent and that is what we try to do."

Asked if Evra had been disrespectful, he replied: "I leave that judgment to you. We do not want to go into any unneeded talking before a game like that.

"We want to focus on the way we want to play and ignore any provocation before a game. We are motivated by the desire to win the game and by the quality of the football we want to play."

While Evra appeared keen to stoke tensions, the feud between Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson has seemingly drawn to a close in recent times.

"It has changed a little bit by the length of the surviving of both managers in their team and there is a respect and understanding of the difficulty of this job," he said.

"That's maybe what you call 'mellowing', but what is important is that it's not Ferguson v Wenger - it's Manchester United v Arsenal.

"What is important is how well both teams will play and all the ingredients are there for an exciting game, that's what we want to produce."

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