Arsène Wenger said yesterday that he had made his peace with Jose Mourinho and put aside the deep grievances from the Chelsea manager’s first spell at the club, when the Arsenal manager was close to taking legal action against his counterpart.
Wenger goes head-to-head with Mourinho tonight in the Capital One Cup fourth round for the first time in more than six years – since they faced one another at the Emirates in May 2007. The Arsenal manager was conciliatory when he described how the past had healed many wounds.
“With all competitors there are ups and downs, you could see that again between [Manuel] Pellegrini and Mourinho, because we put our whole heart into every single game,” Wenger said. “Sometimes we go overboard. With the distance after, it always settles.”
Mourinho said during the summer that he had even had dinner with Wenger during a Uefa coaching conference. This time eight years ago, relations between the two were about to hit their lowest ebb when Mourinho accused Wenger of being a “voyeur” with a “big telescope”, because of what he perceived as the Arsenal manager’s constant criticism of Chelsea. Legal action was only closely averted when it was made clear that Mourinho had not intended any sexual innuendo.
Wenger said yesterday that he intended to “absolutely go for this game” against Chelsea, in spite of the fact that he will be playing a “mixture” of first-team squad members and younger players. He will not play Mathieu Flamini as he is out for three weeks with a groin injury. Beating Chelsea would, Wenger said, give his club the belief they could win the title. “We haven’t won the title for a few years and people question that. The Premier League will reflect the quality of the team and how well you do in the big games. This is a good chance for us to show we are ready.”