Arsene Wenger says Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri “deserves a lot of respect”.
The Frenchman locks horns with Ranieri on Saturday for the first time since Chelsea knocked Arsenal out of the 2003/04 Champions League.
Wenger admits that quarter-final defeat still pains him today, but he is a big admirer of the Italian.
"He deserves a lot of respect and I don’t see him as a ‘tinkerman’"
“You never forget the big defeats,” he said. “It is a scar somewhere that remains forever. It is nothing to do with Claudio. I like him. He has served football in a very positive way.
“I think he deserves a lot of respect and I don’t see him as a ‘tinkerman’. Look at the Chelsea team when he left: they all survived after. They were on the way up when he left. He did a great job. He bought Frank Lampard… they had Terry, Desailly, Gallas. They already had a very strong team.
“He is a competent guy. Look when he started in football and he is still in it today. If he was not competent it would be surprising for him to survive for such a long time at the top level.
“Everybody rotates now because the intensity of the games is very high. It is difficult to repeat exactly the same after the intensity of the game we had on Wednesday night, for example.
“I never saw him change so much his teams. Somebody finds a name and everyone thinks he is only that. But he is a very respectful guy, and has a wonderful sense of humour.”
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