Jose Mourinho managed to see off Wenger last season with a stoppage-time winner, but his stock has since fallen at such an alarming rate that he is the manager under most pressure this evening.
It would speak volumes for the current value of both managers were Unai Emery to end a 12-year wait for victory at United and overcome this mental block.
Equally, it would be another sign of United’s inexorable decline under Mourinho, whose self-aggrandising style has never sat comfortably with a club who see themselves as the best in the world.
United have not come close to living up to that moniker since the days of Ferguson, instead aiming to show it off the field with lavish, scattergun spending in a desperate attempt to stay relevant.
There was no greater example than the £500,000-a-week offer to Alexis Sanchez in January, the same month in which Arsenal retained Mesut Ozil on £350,000 a week.
Two massive contracts which have subsequently caused big problems. The contrasting ways in which Mourinho and Emery have handled this issue highlights their styles.
Sanchez will miss Wednesday’s game with a hamstring injury that it is believed will sideline him until the January transfer window. How convenient. United insist the injury is legitimate, but the timing only fuels rumours over Sanchez’s commitment and attitude. That speculation comes as no surprise to those who worked closely with him at London Colney.
Wenger abhorred confrontation and allowed Sanchez to get away with plenty. Mourinho actively seeks it out and so Sanchez has found himself a bit-part player, unable to make the discernible impact his salary screams is necessary.