Arsene Wenger Compares Manchester Derby Bust-Up to Japanese Sumo Wrestling

As Arsene Wenger sat at home watching the two heavyweights of English football compete at Old Trafford on Sunday (December 10), he was transported back in time to the year 1995.

Wenger, all fresh-faced and thick hazelnut hair, was coaching Nagoya Grampus in the Japanese J. League. Before he arrived in England with Arsenal, before anyone in the Premier League had heard of him, Wenger would spend his spare time watching the national sport in Japan.

So when he heard about the argy-bargy in Manchester on Sunday that reportedly left Mikel Arteta with a bloodied face and Jose Mourinho covered in milk and water, Wenger recalled the traditions of sumo-wrestling.

"It is difficult to take when you lose a game, to see the celebration," the Frenchman said, after reports suggested the Manchester melee was caused through United's frustration at City excessively celebrating its 2-1 win.

"When I was in Japan, I liked sumo wrestling because you could never tell who had won. The winner never showed his happiness as there's a deep respect for the opponent."

Asked about the incident in which Arteta, the former Arsenal midfielder, was left with a cut on his head, Wenger said: "It's funny because in the media, you big games up like it's life or death and then this happens.

"It happened to us, it's happened to them. It's unfortunate. Ideally you would commit 100 percent on the pitch and be an angel after. It's not always the case. You want to keep that passion on the pitch."

Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola
Jose Mourinho, left, at Old Trafford, Manchester, England, December 10. Mourinho was reportedly hit with milk and water during a melee in the Old Trafford tunnel on Sunday. Michael Steele/Getty

This tradition of respect in sumo wrestling is made clear through the story of Asashoryu. The champion wrestler, known as the "bad boy" of the sumo world, beat fellow Mongolian and rival Hakuho in a play-off fight to decide the winner of a tournament in September 2009.

Asashoyru's chances were slim: he had not won the previous four tournaments and had already lost to Hakuho earlier that day. But, against the odds, he was announced as the winner. Delighted at the result, Asashoryu raised his arms aloft and smiled at the watching crowd.

The sport's committee was said to be in shock and horror, with one of the members describing Asashoryu's actions as "intolerable." Incidentally, Asashoryu retired the following year after allegedly being involved in a brawl outside a Tokyo nightclub.

Wenger, presumably, would advise both Pep Guardiola and Mourinho against a change of career to the sumo world.