Ferguson lauds Wenger's 'momentous' milestone

Long-time rival Alex Ferguson has led the tributes to Arsene Wenger's longevity on the eve of his 1,000th game in charge of Arsenal.

Wenger and Ferguson, the former Manchester United manager, spent the best part of two decades competing against each other for domestic and European honours.

While touchline tempers often flared between the duo and they sparred verbally with each other via the media, there is no denying that the Ferguson-Wenger relationship has thawed down the years.

And as Wenger this weekend prepares to become only the fourth manager in the modern era to pass the 1,000-game barrier at one English club - following in the footsteps of Matt Busby, Dario Gradi and Ferguson – the Scot has spoken of his respect for the 64-year-old's achievements and footballing ethos.

"I congratulate Arsene in reaching this momentous landmark," said Ferguson in a statement released by the League Managers Association.

"Having also reached the same milestone at one club, I cannot emphasise enough the level of dedication, resilience as well as sacrifice required and for that I have for the utmost admiration.

"Over the years we enjoyed some fantastic battles and you could say we had survived together and respected each other's efforts to play good football.

"I always enjoy watching Arsene's sides – Arsenal play the right way.

"Playing against them always presented special challenges that I burned many hours over the years thinking about.

"He has always been a conscientious member of our trade who makes it his business to help other managers.

"Perhaps the biggest compliment I could give Arsene is that I could never be anything other than competitive with my rival for 17 years.

"Overall this achievement once again shows what stability can bring to a football club and without doubt he has created a permanent legacy during his 1000 matches with the club."

Arsenal face Premier League leaders Chelsea on Saturday in Wenger's landmark game.