Arsene Wenger names two toughest players his Arsenal teams ever faced

Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger faced plenty of tough opponents as Arsenal boss (Picture: Getty Images)

Arsene Wenger has picked out Roy Keane and Alf-Inge Haaland as the two toughest players any of his Arsenal teams ever came up against during his epic tenure at the club.

The Frenchman was in charge of the Gunners from 1996-2018 and came up against most of the greatest players to ever grace the Premier League and Champions League during that 22-year stint in north London.

Of all the players he tried to combat from the sidelines, he has picked out the Manchester United legend and the former Manchester City midfielder as the toughest of all.

‘Roy Keane and Alf-Inge Haaland – they were always tough to play against,’ Wenger told the BBC.

Keane and Haaland have plenty of history between themselves, of course, with the Irishman infamously produced an horrific tackle on the Norwegian in a 2001 Manchester derby.

It was later claimed by Keane that he did so in retribution for Haaland accusing him of diving in a match over three years earlier when the Norwegian was at Leeds United.

Keane had legitimately injured his knee, keeping him out for a year, but Haaland thought he was feigning injury, which did not sit well with the former United captain, leading to his act of vengeance.

Wenger and Keane clashed during their careers about the physical side of the game, with the Frenchman believing some players went too far in tackles and the Irishman disagreeing.

After Aaron Ramsey suffered a broken leg playing for Arsenal against Stoke City in 2010, Wenger said: ‘This is a young player who has been kicked out of the game. I’m shocked. That wasn’t football. If I have to live with that, I don’t want to be involved in the game.’

However, Keane dismissed his complaints, responding: ‘If anyone thinks they are out to break players’ legs at Arsenal it is a crazy notion.

‘I can understand Arsene Wenger’s frustration but we can’t take away the physical side of the game.

Roy Keane, Alf Inge Haaland
The aftermath of Roy Keane’s infamous challenge on Alf Inge Haaland (Picture: Getty Images)

‘If you ask me to go back over the Arsenal teams of the last 10 to 15 years I can remember playing against people like Martin Keown and Patrick Vieira.

‘If I remember rightly they both liked a tackle. Ian Wright, he’s another who also liked a tackle, and he was a striker.

‘Nobody wants to see players getting injured. When a player gets a broken leg it is absolutely shocking.

‘But it’s part of sport, for God’s sake. A young jockey was killed recently. There’s an edge to top-level sport, an element of danger.

‘Why do you think football is more popular than snooker?

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