Wenger feels serene before strange United trip

Fri Nov 8, 2013 11:34am EST
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By Sonia Oxley

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Arsenal head to Manchester United this weekend with manager Arsene Wenger talking of strange times and serenity but he is not referring to the fact his Premier League leaders are the favorites for the first time in many years.

It will be the first time in his 17 years at the London club that the Frenchman travels to Old Trafford without great rival Alex Ferguson in the home dugout and it is this rather than his team's five-point lead in the table creating an aura of calm.

"It will be a bit strange," Wenger told a news conference on Friday.

"I will see him (Ferguson), certainly yes ... Now we meet each other only at the big managers' meeting to speak about how we can improve football and not how can Manchester United beat Arsenal or how Arsenal can beat Man United.

"So of course it will be a bit more peaceful and more serene."

For Arsenal, though, there are many more reasons to feel composed ahead of Sunday's encounter at a ground where they have failed to win in the league in their last six attempts, including a humiliating 8-2 thumping two seasons ago.

Holding a five-point advantage at the summit for the first time since February 2008, Arsenal have the rare luxury of a guarantee they will stay top even if they lose while victory would put them a huge 11 points clear of champions United.

Arsenal have lost just one of their 10 league games this season to collect 25 points, while David Moyes' United have already suffered three defeats to sit eighth with 17 points more than a quarter of the way into the season.   Continued...

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger reacts during their English Premier League soccer match against Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London October 31, 2009. REUTERS/ Eddie Keogh