Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce reveals his feud with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is a thing of the past

Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger
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Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce has insisted his feud with Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger has been consigned to history - and is not even sure it worked anyway.

The then Bolton manager famously got under the Frenchman's skin as he guided his side to a series of unlikely positive results against the Gunners, and admitted in his recently published autobiography that he enjoyed winding up a man he described as having "an air of arrogance."

However, Allardyce, now 61, has revealed the pair now have an "amicable" relationship as they prepare to meet at the Emirates Stadium in the Barclays Premier league on Saturday.

He said with a smile: "I have had some good fun with him. Those early days were years and years ago and it's been much more amicable, our meetings, not just on match days, but also off the field when we have bumped into each other.

"But I have always had a huge amount of respect for Arsene and his quality as a manager. Winding-up became a procedure that we all use if and when we feel it necessary.

"I have always thought he is a fantastic manager and he's done a fantastic job. I might have wound him up a time or two, but never disrespected him.

"That's a long time ago. It seems to be a part of the world of football sometimes and whether it makes a difference, I don't know. People seem to think it did, so when the opportunity arose, if you felt it was the right thing to do, you did it.

"But at the end of the day, it's about 11 v 11 on the field. I'm not so sure what you do when you wind a manager up that it makes a difference your players when they go out. I'm not so sure it does.

"But it's also good publicity for you lot, isn't it? We have to be worried about our image these days, don't we? If we haven't got the right image, then we are not very good managers, so we have to be careful."

Allardyce led Bolton into battle with Arsenal on 16 occasions in all competitions, and emerged with a hugely creditable four victories and six draws.

However, he has never beaten them at home with any of his clubs and will hope to address that record with Sunderland, who have recorded three 0-0 draws in North London in their last five visits.

Allardyce, who will be without injured duo Sebastian Larsson and Jermain Defoe, said: "I've never won at Arsenal with any of my teams - drawn a few, but never won.

"The club has not won there since the '80s when our kit man was in the squad and Paul Bracewell played, my assistant manager, so it shows you how long it's been.

"But anything can happen on any day in the Premier League, so let's hope it's our day. Let's hope we get a little bit of good fortune, let's hope we play very, very well and if we can do all that, we might get a result."