Arsene Wenger seeks first victory over Jose Mourinho to pep players
Arsenal manager concedes benefits could be reaped before more critical contests
Arsene Wenger seeks a first victory over a side managed by Jose Mourinho.
Arsene Wenger has admitted Arsenal’s collision with Chelsea in the League Cup tonight can have a “psychological influence on the team” as the Frenchman seeks a first victory over a side managed by Jose Mourinho to pep his players’ conviction that they are realistic challengers for honours this term.
The sides taking the field at the Emirates Stadium tonight will be radically different from those that compete each week in the Premier League, where the London rivals sit first and second, with fringe and younger players hoping to seize an opportunity to impress. Yet Wenger, although initially reluctant to heap more significance on the derby, did concede benefits could be reaped before more critical contests in the weeks ahead.
“What is for sure is that you want to win these sort of games,” the Arsenal manager said. “I’m not sure it will affect the Premier League at all, but you know people will look at you, how you behave and whether you can win the big games like that.”
While Wenger considers offering Nicklas Bendtner a first Arsenal start since March 2011, Mourinho intends to select a similar team to the one that overcame Swindon Town of League One in the third round. He will not pick any players who started Sunday’s win against Manchester City.
That should mean involvement for David Luiz and Juan Mata, as well as experienced team-mates such as Michael Essien and Mikel John Obi, and the 20-year-old Czech centre-half Tomas Kalas could make his debut.
Chelsea are considering moving Mourinho’s son’s season ticket from behind the away dugout at Stamford Bridge to avoid a repeat of Sunday’s emotional celebrations by the home manager.
The Portuguese ran across the visitors’ technical area to seek out his son, Jose Jr, after Fernando Torres’s last-minute winner and enraged Pellegrini in the process, the City manager opting against offering a post-match handshake.