Arsene Wenger has formed an unexpected ally ahead of Sunderland’s trip to the Emirates Stadium, with former foe Sam Allardyce revealing his admiration for the Arsenal boss.
The experienced duo have a history of touchline theatrics and regularly contested in media mind-games, particularly during Allardyce’s spell with Bolton Wanderers.
However, the Sunderland manager maintains he is calmer than his earlier spells in the Premier League and said he and Wenger have built a relationship after settling their issues.
Allardyce said he is willing to test the stability of their established friendship by asking to take one of his players on loan when the window re-opens at the turn of the year.
“I got under his skin but those were the early days,” the 61-year-old said.
“Our meetings have been much more amicable since, on and off the field.
“I’ve always had a huge amount of respect for him. Winding-up was just a procedure we used as and when it was necessary.
“We’ve had some good conversations about the progression of football and where we should be going, especially at the younger end in terms of developing a player and getting him in the Premier League.
“If I have a drink with Arsene on Saturday then I want to be talking about the fact we played so well, and does he have any players he might lend me in January!”
Sunderland arrive in north London on Saturday above the relegation zone, after Allardyce led his side to consecutive wins for the first time this season.
Allardyce is convinced age has improved him as a manager.
“With experience you learn more about the game,” he said.
“You prioritise much better, you’re calmer and you learn to handle things. In the early days you can be overcome by the pressures of being in the Premier League, you react to what people say but, as you get older and wiser, you let things go.”