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Arsene Wenger vs. Sir Alex Ferguson: The Story of Premier League's Best Rivalry

LONDON - MARCH 28:  Manager Arsene Wenger of Arsenal argues with manager Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Arsenal and Manchester United at Highbury on March 28, 2004 in London.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images
Matthew CelentanoFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2011

Wenger and Ferguson. Undeniably the two best managers in the Premier League during the modern era. Between these two just about every single feat has been achieved. A treble, an undefeated season, and a whole lot of trophies. But when people of this calibre manage in the same league, you know they won't just smile and be friends...

It all started with the inception of the Barclay's Premier League, which was soon followed by Manchester United's practically unrivaled dominance, winning three Premier League titles before the 1996-97 season.

But then Arsene Wenger came along. Rumours swirled around the Frenchman's arrival at Highbury, about how he could speak 5 languages and the mystery of why he was recommended to switch from unknown Japanese outfit Nagoya Grampus Eight to North London giants Arsenal.

Ferguson was clearly threatened by Wenger's arrival, especially by "the Professor's" sophistication, how he disapproved of alcohol and didn't follow other British football traditions.

Wenger managed Arsenal to a respectable third place finish in his first season at Arsenal, only seven points adrift of Fergie and the Red Devils. In April of that season, Wenger complained that Manchester United's fixture list made the club's life easier, as the squad got enough time to rest between every match.

Sir Alex completely disregarded this comment, calling Wenger a novice and telling him to only talk about Japanese football. That was when things got personal.

Funny enough, Ferguson swallowed his words the following season as Wenger and the Gunners pipped Manchester United to the Premier League crown by just a point, humiliating Sir Alex as he was defeated by someone he had just recently regarded as a "novice."

The following few years saw the rivalry flesh out even, with Wenger refusing to shake Ferguson's hand, as well as the managers criticizing each other's style of play to the media on multiple occasions.

Then, of course, there was the pizzagate incident, which was when an Arsenal player supposedly threw pizza at Sir Alex after Manchester United ended Arsenal's 49 game unbeaten run.

As well as this reaction to the Gunners' loss, Wenger also called Ruud van Nistelrooy "a cheat" for behaviour during the match. The Arsenal boss was fined 15,000 pounds, before once again calling the Dutchman a cheat just to reassure everyone that he meant what he said.

This was definitely the climax of the Wenger vs Ferguson rivalry. After these events, the rivalry calmed down, with only some petty criticisms thrown at each other every now and then.

That's the story of the rivalry, the history of it, but what about the opinions surrounding it? Arsenal and Manchester United supporters get in long arguments about which manager is "better," but it's useless, as no side will ever admit that the opposing manager is superior.

Wenger is certainly the king of beautiful football, with the most attractive gameplay in the Premier League, but that's got him zero trophies in six years. On the other hand, Sir Alex brings trophies to Old Trafford like nobodies business, even though he might do it through football that isn't as pleasing to the eye as the Gunners'.

As for me, I'm an Arsenal supporter, so my opinion will be completely biased if I voice it here. But every one has their own standpoint on this famous rivalry, so feel free to share your opinion. Either way, these two managers are nothing short of geniuses.

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