But although it has no bearing on the title race and both clubs are struggling to even finish in the top four, Wenger and Mourinho in such close proximity will add some needle to this weekend’s Emirates Stadium showdown.

A fixture that once enjoyed the cachet of a heavyweight title fight – and often resembled one on the pitch as England’s preeminent teams slugged it out – has been relegated in status with United fifth and Arsenal sixth in the Premier League.

Wenger has won only one of 15 meetings with a Mourinho team, and even that came in the Community Shield. What is more, he has endured regular taunts from nemesis Mourinho – a coach with vastly different football philosophy.

Were in not for the two managers involved, the significance of Sunday’s fixture would be questionable, although for Arsenal the stakes are higher than for United.

This season’s clash at Old Trafford, which ended in a 1-1 draw, passed off peacefully, but the relationship remains frosty.

Defeat by United would extinguish any realistic chance Arsenal have of playing in next season’s Champions League — snapping an ever-present sequence stretching back to 1997.

Their hopes of finishing in the top four – something they have achieved 20 seasons in a row – look forlorn.

On paper, fifth-placed United, who are five points above Arsenal having played a game more, have a better chance of finishing in the top four. But that appears to be Mourinho’s Plan B with Europa League glory beckoning.

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