Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: Chelsea's woes not my problem

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will not concern himself with whatever issues are facing rival boss Jose Mourinho at Chelsea when the two men go head-to-head again on Saturday.

Chelsea head into the televised clash in need of a kick-start to their Barclays Premier League campaign, which has seen the champions beaten three times already and down in 17th place.

While there may have been speculation concerning reported dressing room unrest and just how Mourinho sets about overhauling what is considered to be an ageing squad, Wenger will focus on getting the best out of his own players.

"I don't want to talk about that, it is not my problem," said Wenger when pressed on the issues now facing Mourinho.

"You have to find the right players and the right balance. It is the same for everybody."

The rival coaches squared up in the dugout last season during the Blues' 2-0 win and then following Arsenal's victory in the 2015 FA Community Shield at Wembley there was no handshake between the pair.

However, despite the intense media focus on the pair's simmering rivalry - which has included Mourinho once branding the long-serving Arsenal manager a "specialist in failure" - Wenger would rather his side's performance on the pitch make the headlines and refused to be drawn on the dynamics during Friday's pre-match press conference.

While Chelsea enjoyed a 4-0 Champions League win over Maccabi Tel Aviv at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night, Arsenal opened their European campaign with disappointing 2-1 defeat at Dinamo Zagreb, where striker Olivier Giroud was sent off.

Wenger defended his decision to rotate the squad, with goalkeeper Petr Cech on the bench and Aaron Ramsey and Hector Bellerin not travelling to Croatia.

The Gunners boss also insists the extended journey time back to London through the small hours of Thursday morning, which included a two-hour drive across the border to Ljubljana airport in Slovenia, cannot be used as a get-out for any shortcomings on Saturday.

"We have to deal with that and we have to forget about that and just focus on the game," he said.

"No (it does not give them an excuse), they prepare well enough.

"You never know what kind of consequences that is but I think we are prepared to deal with it."

Wenger believes Arsenal's victory over Chelsea in the 2015 FA Community Shield, breaking his duck against Mourinho, was "the first important step" to reasserting dominance over their west London rivals.

The Gunners boss feels matching the Blues power will be "part of the key of the game".

However, he stressed: "But as well you want to do that without destroying your game. We have a good natural balance between physical and technical quality so I will not change too much."

Cech is set to return to Stamford Bridge for the first time since his £10million summer switch to Arsenal.

Wenger reckons facing their former team-mate could have an impact on Chelsea's approach,

"You know you have to score the perfect goal in front of him," the Arsenal boss said.

"On my side I just want him to focus on this game and not be influenced by that, b ut he is so experienced that I don't need to talk to him about it."


From Belfast Telegraph