There was no sign of any thawing in José Mourinho’s and Arsène Wenger’s relationship after Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Chelsea yesterday.
The pair sparked the season’s first handshake controversy by failing to acknowledge each other on the pitch after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal earned Wenger his first win over Mourinho at the 14th time of asking.
Mourinho also wondered why, when Chelsea are so often accused of parking the bus, Arsenal were not criticised for what he felt was a defensive approach. Chelsea’s manager did sound impressed with Arsenal’s defending, although it was possible to detect a whiff of mischief in the way he praised their tactics.
Wenger and Mourinho did not shake hands after the final whistle and the Arsenal manager appeared to avoid his Chelsea counterpart after he had collected his winner’s medal. Mourinho had just congratulated Arsenal’s players, but Wenger steered clear of him. Neither manager wanted to spend too much time on the subject. “I shook a few hands after the game,” Wenger said. “There’s nothing special there.”
End of the world
Mourinho said: “Every Arsenal player came in my direction, which was the easiest thing to do because I was just there and if other people didn’t come in my direction that is not a problem, not a story and not the end of the world.”
Yet Mourinho has aimed a couple of barbs at Arsenal during pre-season. “We live in a job where you have to respect people and respect everybody,” Wenger said. “It’s a different job and it’s vital. I’ve said that many times in managers’ meetings that managers should respect each other.”
Mourinho argued that Arsenal adopted a counterattacking style. “For me it depends on the perspective because normally you like to say the team that is defensive and defends very well normally doesn’t deserve to win,” he said. “I have to go in your direction and say the best team lost and the defensive team won.
“But I also have my opinion and that is different from your opinion, and that is the team that defends well and the team that leaves their philosophy in the dressing room and change that attitude and philosophy and accumulate 10 players behind the ball all the time and play all the second half with nine players in front of the box. This is football, this is very good tactical organisation and in the perspective they scored one goal and deserved to win. Congratulations to them.
“One team played counterattack football and the other team had the initiative and played well without the sharpness that you need to be more aggressive when you have the ball.”
Wenger did not quite agree with that assessment, although he admitted it was a mental boost for his players to beat Chelsea. “We abandoned nothing, we defend our game on togetherness and solidarity and on defending well and attacking well,” he said. “I believe today, yes, we defended, because maybe it was a psychological hurdle Chelsea had in the head of my players; we were concerned at 1-0 up to protect our lead rather than to play.”
Wenger denied it was a personal relief to beat Mourinho. “Honestly, I would say it didn’t play on my mind at all,” he said. “As long as I get it served every time in press conferences, it can have an impact on my team. Certainly the way my team performed, it was important to get it out of the way.” Guardian Service