By Chris Harris

It's almost 12 years to the day since Arsène Wenger first locked horns with Sir Alex Ferguson in the Premier League. Since then, the two men have contributed to one of the game's biggest rivalries.

Wenger and Ferguson have had their moments in the past dozen seasons but, as they prepare to meet for the 37th time in English football, it appears their previously spiky relationship is now far more cordial.

The Arsenal manager admitted as much at his pre-match press conference. However, Wenger insisted that their new-found friendship would mean very little when Arsenal and Manchester United line up against each other on Saturday.

"Our relationship is better. Why? Because I believe that over the years there is a respect there," said Wenger.

"As well the competition has been as well with Chelsea and Liverpool and that has diverted it a little bit, [the rivalry is] not only directly anymore with Arsenal.

"But of course I relish still these battles [with Ferguson] because we are two fierce, passionate men and you know we are here to win football games.

"You do not last a long time in this job if you are not super-passionate about winning. We have that in common."

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7 Nov 2008