Wenger refuses to enter into slanging match with Evra

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The Independent Online

Arsene Wenger believes Manchester United defender Patrice Evra showed a lack of respect by branding Arsenal nothing more than a "training centre" ahead of Monday night's showdown at Old Trafford.

The Gunners leapfrogged Sir Alex Ferguson's side to the top of the table last weekend with victory over Fulham as the Red Devils had their match at Blackpool postponed. Wenger, however, feels a war of words serves no purpose. "He [Evra] gave you some good stuff to make it all hot before the game," the Arsenal manager said. "We are guided by the way we want to play football and not by the statements of anybody who plays us.

"I believe if you are a big player you always respect your opponent and that is what we try to do."

Asked if Evra had been disrespectful, the Gunners manager said: "I leave that judgement to you. We do not want to go into any unneeded talking before a game like that. We want to focus on the way we want to play and ignore any provocation before a game."

On his now seemingly cordial relationship with once bitter rival Ferguson, Wenger observed: "It has changed a little bit by the length of the surviving of both managers in their team and there is a respect and understanding of the difficulty of this job. That's maybe what you call 'mellowing'. But what is important is that it's not Ferguson v Wenger, it's Manchester United v Arsenal.

"What is important is how well both teams will play and all the ingredients are there for an exciting game, that's what we want to produce."

Wenger will leave a decision on the fitness of captain Cesc Fabregas, battling to recover from a hamstring problem, until the last moment. "We will not take an unreasonable gamble, that is for sure, even if it is a big game," Wenger said.

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