For all the tributes paid to him Arsene Wenger was as eager as ever to talk about the next game and with Arsenal travelling to Stamford Bridge tomorrow he pulled no punches in describing his latest showdown with Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea as the ‘game of the season’ for the Gunners.
Having closed the gap on the Blues to four points last weekend – and with a game still in hand on the leaders – the boss was keen to focus attention on the club’s title tilt.
Bigging up his players after a three game run which has taken in big wins in the league and FA Cup and a creditable draw against Bayern Munich, Wenger told assembled press:
“The result tomorrow will be linked with the performance of the day. We come out of winning 4-1 against Everton, we drew 1-1 at Bayern Munich and we won 1-0 at Tottenham.
“We are on a good run so let’s take the confidence out of this run to make another surprise tomorrow.
“It is the game of the season for us – it’s as simple as that. We are in a period where every point is vital now, especially against your direct opponents. It is for us the most important game of the season now.”
Wenger, as has been well documented, is yet to taste success against Mourinho in the Portuguese coach’s two spells in West London. Asked whether Chelsea’s midweek Champions League exploits might see fatigue play a factor, he continued:
“That’s difficult to know if it will have an impact at the end of the season, but tomorrow it will not have an impact because they had a game that was not very demanding against Galatasaray.
“You cannot say they [Chelsea] are favourites or not, but they are among the teams who are fighting to win the Premier League, nobody can deny that.
“If you look at the table, what is very interesting is you have Manchester City, you have Chelsea, you have Liverpool and you have Arsenal – that has not happened for years to fight for the Premier League. That makes it really interesting. None of these four teams can say they are not going for it, that would be stupid.”
While the rest of the football world united in respect ahead of Wenger’s 1000th game in charge of the Gunners, Jose Mourinho couldn’t help but utter a few barbed comments in the direction of the Frenchman. Obviously, Arsene won’t give a shit, he rarely does when it comes to the Portuguese, but there’s no doubt victory tomorrow would represent three of the most satisfying points of his career.
Here’s to a good Saturday.