Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger has continued his feud with Chelsea counterpart Jose Mourinho claiming the Portuguese has embarrassed himself and his club with the latest set of barbed comments directed at the Frenchman. Mourinho labeled Wenger “a specialist in failure” – a retort to the Arsenal manager’s comments that Mourinho and his other title rivals were playing down their chances in the title race because they “fear to fail.”
However, many believe that Mourinho’s latest outburst was a step to far because it made the mind games personal. He was pointing to the fact Wenger has not won a trophy since 2005 and said he would walk away from Chelsea before he went anywhere near that length of time without silverware.
Wenger chose the aftermath of Arsenal’s 2-1 FA Cup victory over Liverpool as his platform to respond to Mourinho’s personal attack. The Frenchman also highlighted the fact he never mentioned any managers by name when he made his initial comments. “I am embarrassed for him. Honestly. I am more disappointed for Chelsea than for me,” he said.
As the business end of the season approaches, mind games and baiting comes to the fore. Mourinho is a natural at it, having taken on the likes of mind games master Sir Alex Ferguson and Wenger over the years. He has even started to take aim at City’s Manuel Pellegrini, who is currently enjoying his first season in England. Pellegrini has faced Mourinho in Spain and so will be all to familiar with Mourinho’s modus operandi.
While the Arsenal boss has continued his feud with Mourinho, he will be in buoyant mood because his side overcame a tricky tie against Liverpool and have been rewarded with a home FA Cup quarter-final match against Everton. Many will fancy Arsenal to make it to the final, provided they can avoid Manchester City en route. The Blue half of Manchester are chasing an unprecedented quadruple, starting with the League Cup final next month.
The timing of the victory over Liverpool will be a major shot in the arm for an Arsenal side under scrutiny. Not only have the Gunners stuttered in recent Premier League fixtures, a number of the side’s big names have been singled out for dips in form. Club record signing Mesut Özil had understandably become a target for the media after his dazzling start to the season. Although Wenger played down the German’s loss of form, the player himself has since fessed up and said the negative press combined with his own high standards has meant a real test of character.
Arsenal face another acid test this week when they face the might of Bayern Munich in the Champions League. The Germans are arguably the form side left in the competition and so Arsenal will have to be at their best if they are to get anything out of the two legs.
So while the Arsenal boss has continued his feud with Mourinho on the domestic front, his next big task is how to outwit Pep Guardiola’s Munich. Still, it would take a brave person to bet that Mourinho will leave the war of words where it is.
By Robert Shepherd