By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger considers Luis Felipe Scolari a friend - but he will put their relationship to one side on Sunday afternoon.
A positive result against Chelsea will leave Arsenal seven points adrift of their London rivals but a defeat against Scolari's side would open up a daunting 13-point gap between the two clubs.
Wenger admires Scolari's attacking philosophy - one which has already reaped dividends at Stamford Bridge - but he knows he must win the tactical battle against a man he first met while in charge of Nagoya Grampus Eight in Japan. The Frenchman reflected on his first meeting with the Brazilian at his pre-match press conference on Friday.
"I met him in Japan because he was over there, although he did not stay for very long because he didn't like the sushi," recalled Wenger. "After that I met him when he was national coach of Portugal because he had some players in England and we kept good relations.
"I have known him for a long time. I believe he has done well. He is a very experienced, extroverted man who does well. He has a big experience and football everywhere is the same. You want to win your games. He has dealt quite well with the problems he faces here.
"You want managers who have a positive attitude towards the game. Is he a breath of fresh air? I don't know. It looks like the press is always in need of fresh air, some fresh oxygen. I believe the most important thing is the quality of the job you do.
"However, the good relationship with Scolari will not last after 4pm on Sunday. It is always better than being in a confrontational way with the opposition manager but what is most important is that the only enjoyable thing will be winning."Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source