By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger expects his new-improved relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson to survive the intensity of a Champions League Semi-Final.

The two elder statesmen of Premier League football have enjoyed a battle royal since Wenger arrived in North London 13 years ago. At times their rivalry has bordered on the hostile but in recent seasons a mutual respect has developed between the pair. Instead of mind games, we have witnessed a meeting of minds.

If anything could challenge Wenger and Ferguson's new-found friendship it is a last-four clash in Europe's premier club competition. Arsenal head to Old Trafford for the first leg of a mouthwatering Semi-Final on Wednesday and welcome Manchester United to Emirates Stadium six days later.

It is without doubt the biggest tie of the season for both clubs but, while Wenger expects an intense battle on the pitch, he is confident that cordial relations can be maintained off it.

"Our respect will survive the two games," said the Frenchman. "[Earning Ferguson's respect] is one of the privileges of getting older!

"I think these two games will be a fierce competiton. We’ll go completely for it and so will they.

"It will be a very interesting competition because we feel we have improved since the beginning of the season, they feel that they’ve come back into a stronger position than they were two or three weeks ago. So both teams can both be peaking at the right time.

"I believe really they will be very competitive games."

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27 Apr 2009