Arsene Wenger a ‘specialist in failure’: Jose Mourinho
Chelsea manager responding to Frenchman’s suggestion he was afraid to lose title chase
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho saysArsene Wenger is a ‘specialist in failure’. Photograph: Ian Walton/Getty Images
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says his side are in the title race. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA
On Friday morning Wenger declared the title “Chelsea’s to lose” and insisted anyone who claims their team is not in the race does so out of fear of failure.
Mourinho has repeatedly played down Chelsea’s chances of winning the Premier League this season, describing his side as the “little horse” in the race and making them third favourites behind Manchester City and the Gunners, despite currently leading the standings.
“He is a specialist in failure. I’m not,” said Mourinho, whose side play City in the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday. “If supposedly he is right and I’m afraid to fail, it’s because I haven’t failed many times. “Maybe he’s right. Maybe I’m not used to failing.
“The reality is he is a specialist. Eight years without a piece of silverware, that’s failure. If I do that at Chelsea, eight years, I leave London and I don’t come back.”
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie against Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium, Wenger said: “It (title race) is very open, only Chelsea can lose it because they are in front and all the other teams can win it.”
Asked why every other manager says they are not contenders, Wenger responded: “It is (because of a) fear to fail.”
Wenger maintains his only focus will be on making sure Arsenal can finish above their rivals come May.
“If you’re not in the race you cannot lose it, if you declare yourself not in the race you cannot lose it, simple as that,” he said. “I think just that our job is to be ambitious and to try to win, if we do not win to take full responsibility for that. That’s as simple as that and that’s how I see it.
“I say yes we are in it, yes we will have a go for it, we will absolutely give everything to go for it and if we don’t do I will take responsibility for it, but I just see it like that.”
Wenger added: “We live in a league and in a country where we have one advantage - everybody can think what he wants, (but) it is very difficult when you’re first in the league to distract people.”
Arsenal were thumped 5-1 at Anfield in the Premier League last weekend - trailing 4-0 inside the opening 20 minutes - but responded with a goalless draw against Manchester United on Wednesday night.
Midfielder Santi Cazorla is doubtful this weekend because of illness, but Mathieu Flamini returns from a three-game suspension.
Wenger is expecting a much-improved display when they tackle Liverpool again, looking for a repeat of Arsenal’s 2-0 home league win earlier this season.
The Arsenal manager said: “These guys are winners. When they lose in that way believe me they are hurt. When you can put things right, you want an opportunity to do that and we have an opportunity.”