Arsene Wenger says he would always try to avoid publicly criticising his players in the manner Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has this season.
The Gunners welcome United to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon with the once bitter title rivals now battling it out for the outside chance of sneaking into the top four of the Premier League.
Arsenal have lost eight of their last 16 games in all competitions and were sixth in the table on Saturday morning, while Mourinho’s Red Devils sit fifth but have more than an eye on the second leg of their Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo on Thursday.
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Mourinho took charge at Old Trafford last summer and insisted the title was his priority, but a number of damaging home draws have extinguished that hope.
The Portuguese has criticised a number of his players during his maiden campaign at United, with the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial all feeling the public wrath of Mourinho.
It has yielded results with summer signing Mkhitaryan, while Martial is starting to show signs of the precocious talent he had when bursting onto the scene in England, but Shaw continues to struggle.
Despite their poor run of form and the fact a minority of supporters have turned on Wenger, the Frenchman is not planning to follow Mourinho’s lead and openly criticise his players.
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“Ideally you have to be careful with that because you cannot do that in every single game,” he said. “You can do that in extreme situations but it has to be handled carefully because it just makes that stress level worse for them. Top players have a good and objective assessment. They know well where they stand.”
Asked whether such public condemnation can lead a manager to losing the respect of the dressing room, Wenger said: “You cannot always say to the players ‘we are all in the same boat…