Wenger sees Amsterdam as 'ideal preparation'

August 8, 2008

Arsene Wenger expects to know more about Arsenal's chances for the coming season after the 'ideal preparation' of the Amsterdam Tournament.

The Gunners take on hosts Ajax tonight, and then face Sevilla before Wenger will bring his men back to Holland at the start of next week for the Champions League qualifier against Steve McClaren's FC Twente.

While the chance to lock horns with old adversary Jose Mourinho, now in charge at Inter Milan, may not crop up this weekend, the Arsenal manager nevertheless expects the trip to be worthwhile.

'It is an ideal opportunity to sharpen up before a very important game, and it will be ideal preparation,' said Wenger, who is likely to give Euro 2008 winner Cesc Fabregas a first pre-season run-out in one of the games.

Both Wenger and Mourinho would have enjoyed renewing their acquaintance in the dugout on neutral territory.

Former Chelsea boss Mourinho - now in charge of Inter Milan - once famously labelled Wenger a 'voyeur' for his comments about events at Stamford Bridge.

He was also less than impressed following an apparent snub over a goodwill message in a Christmas card, and refused to shake hands with Wenger at the end of a match.

However, the atmosphere was much more cordial as the two men were presented to the media in Holland.

'We had some battles, which unfortunately Chelsea at that time won many times, but I would have loved to have played against Inter - because they are a great side,' said Wenger.

'It is always interesting before the season starts to measure yourselves with the top teams in other countries, because it gives you a little bit of a view of how well you can do in Europe if you qualify.'

Mourinho - who left Chelsea in September last year and joined the Italian giants over the summer - would also have relished the chance to go head-to-head with Wenger again.

'Now that we are in different countries, we agree more times,' he quipped. 'I agree totally (playing other teams in Europe) and would choose that for my pre-season.

'We have played against Bayern Munich and now we are against Dutch and the Spanish. It is a pity we cannot play also against Arsenal.

'I think it is very important to play against different philosophies of football and tactics, to make things difficult for ourselves.

'In pre-season I do not like to win 10-0; I like friendly matches against good teams and to make it difficult for ourselves.'