LONDON — Jose Mourinho accused Arsenal of “leaving their philosophy in the changing room” during Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat to their Premier League rivals in the Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday.
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Mourinho’s Chelsea did most of the pressing on a hot day in north London, but were frustrated by a water-tight Arsenal defense which soaked up the pressure expertly after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had given them an early lead.
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Speaking to the press after the game, Mourinho went straight for the Gunners and their ultra-defensive approach. This came after the managers failed to shake hands after the showpiece game to kick off the domestic season, as Wenger and Mourinho’s bitter feud continues. Mourinho also threw his runners up medal into the crowd for a young Arsenal fan, shrugging off the loss in the traditional curtain-raiser for the new season.
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In many ways at Wembley on Sunday, Arsenal managed to beat Chelsea at their own game.
“It depends on the perspective because normally you [the media] like to say that the team who defends very well doesn’t deserve to win and I have to go in your direction and say the best team lost and the defensive team won,” Mourinho said. “But I also have my opinion. My opinion is that the team that defends very well and the team that leaves their philosophy in the changing room and changes their philosophy and leaves 10 players behind the ball and play the whole second half with nine players in front of the box. This is football, this is very good tactical organization. In that perspective they scored one goal, they deserved to win.”
Mourinho is being clever here. He is saying: “okay, you complain when Chelsea defends and sneaks a 1-0 win, but when Arsenal does it, it is okay?”
But Wenger must be applauded for seeing the error of his ways in the past and being more flexible with this tactics. An Arsenal team of three of four years ago would have crumbled against Chelsea on Sunday but they defended bravely and Francis Coquelin sat in front of the back four to expertly thwart Chelsea’s offense, with Eden Hazard having a very quiet afternoon. As we saw during the second half of the last PL season, the Gunners have finally found a way to grind out wins.
So, what does Wenger think about Mourinho saying his side “left their philosophy in the dressing room?”
“We abandoned nothing. We defended well. Our game is based on togetherness, on solidarity, and defending and attacking well,” Wenger said. “I believe that we defended because there was maybe a bit of a psychological hurdle ahead of my players. They were more concerned with protecting our lead against Chelsea rather than playing attacking football. We have to accept that and I don’t think that’s giving up your philosophy, it’s a punctual fact that we wanted to win a game like that. I’m quite proud of that.”
With Wenger finally getting one over on Mourinho, the Chelsea boss has lost that psychological edge which almost seemed to be eating away at the soul of Arsenal’s players and fans. Chelsea boss believes he never had an edge and played down the defeat.
“I have never had a psychological edge,” Mourinho said. “I think what happened before it is not normal. Because it is not normal, I never paid attention to that. I always thought that one game is one game and has no relation with other games. 13 matches is an eternity. It is too much. I never pay attention to that.”
As for Wenger, he lauded the signing of former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech as maybe being a reason why the Blues couldn’t break his side down, and he also praised his side for the defensive solidity.
“There is an extra satisfaction because we beat a good team and against the offensive potential that Chelsea has, we didn’t concede a goal,” Wenger said. “He did well and maybe he [Cech] had an influence on the Chelsea players as well because they think that to score against him they have to score the perfect goal. When you have that, sometimes you try too hard.”