Belfast Telegraph

Wenger shakes off criticism of defensive tactic

By Sam Wallace

Jose Mourinho's toxic relationship with Arsène Wenger took another twist yesterday when the Chelsea manager accused his counterpart of ignoring the chance to shake his hand at the end of a game which saw Arsenal win through Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's goal.

Mourinho had waited at the bottom of the Wembley steps to individually congratulate the Arsenal players as they came down with their medals, following their 1-0 Community Shield victory. When Wenger reached the end of the line he walked on the blindside of Mourinho, who in turn made no effort to shake his hand.

Mourinho, who later threw his medal to a young Arsenal supporter, said: "I was doing what the status of my club and my status as a manager demands.

"I think I have to do that for myself and for the club, which was to be there for the winners (and shake hands), to wait for them in a point where you only miss me if you want to miss me.

"I don't want any more comment on that. I did my job, the job my club deserves me to do."

It was Wenger's first victory over a Mourinho team, at the 14th attempt, a record that has been well-trailed over time but the Chelsea manager said that one defeat changed little.

"One game is one game and has no relation with other games. Thirteen matches is an eternity, it's too much. You go to Arsenal bench (ie, become Arsenal manager) and in 14 matches you won once for sure.

"I never pay attention to that. For me it was never a question of 'I beat this one or I lose against that one'. It was never that."

Mourinho also accused Arsenal of changing their approach in order that they could defend their lead, saying that the better team had lost.

He said: "My opinion is a team that defends very well, a team that leaves their philosophy in the dressing room, can change their attitude and their philosophy, accumulate 10 players behind the ball all the time, play all the second half with nine players in front of the box.

"This is football, this is very good tactical organisation. In that perspective, they scored one goal, they deserved to win, congratulations to them."

Wenger hit back at that suggestion: "We abandon nothing. We defended.

"Our game is based on togetherness, on solidarity, on defending well and attacking well. I believe we defended because maybe it was a bit of a psychological hurdle, Chelsea, in the head of my players. They were more concerned once we were 1-0 up to protect our lead than to play.

"We have to accept that. I don't think that's giving up your philosophy."

England midfidler Jack Wilshere missed the Wembley encounter and he is likely to miss next weekend's clash with West Ham United too due to the ankle injury he picked up in training on Saturday.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph