Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has hailed Arsene Wenger’s career as Arsenal manager as “fantastic”.
The 66-year-old, who has won three Premier League titles and six FA Cups with the Gunners, will celebrate his 20th anniversary in the role on October 1.
Wenger has held onto his position despite a relative lack of success in the last decade, with Arsenal having failed to win the title since 2004 and having only ended a nine-year trophy drought with an FA Cup triumph in 2014.
Jose Mourinho infamously branded Wenger “a specialist in failure” during his second stint as Chelsea boss, but Conte – who will face Arsenal for the first time on Saturday – believes the club’s faith in the Frenchman is to be commended.
“Arsenal have a good story, they’re an important team. I think Wenger is doing a good job. It is fantastic for someone to stay at a club for 20 years,” he said.
“I think that there is satisfaction on both sides. Sometimes I think that it’s important for the manager to know that he doesn’t always have to win, lose or draw.
“Sometimes if you judge only for the wins, you make a big mistake and you pay for this in the future.”
Chelsea and Arsenal both sit on 10 points after their first five league games of the season, and Conte expects the Gunners to sustain their challenge as a title rival throughout the campaign.
“It’s a game between two big rivals,” he added. “It’s important to play a good game. We know that tomorrow we face a good team, a big rival. I’m sure they will fight until the end to win the title.
“It’s a good team, with young players, technically good.”
Cesc Fabregas has struggled for regular game time under Conte, but scored twice in extra time to seal Chelsea’s 4-2 EFL Cup win away to Leicester City on Wednesday.
And Conte admits that he could hand a start to the former Arsenal captain at the Emirates Stadium.
“This is a special game for Cesc, but the most important thing is that he’s Chelsea’s player and he’s playing very well. He looks very focused,” said Conte.
“There’s the possibility of him starting tomorrow but I have another day to make the decision. But for him, it will be a special game.”