Arsene Wenger looks to gain control of Premier League title race

2014-03-20 11:37

London – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has the chance to ram José Mourinho’s words down his throat on Saturday when his team travels to Stamford Bridge looking to snatch control of the Premier League title race from Chelsea.

There would be no better way for Wenger to mark his 1 000th game in charge of Arsenal than to ruin Mourinho’s unblemished home league record as Chelsea boss after the Portuguese dismissed Wenger as a “specialist in failure” last month.

The mind games in this season’s engrossing Premier League title battle have been simmering in the background but it is on the pitch where points are won and lost and the outcome of this Saturday’s lunchtime London derby could prove pivotal come May 11.

Chelsea appeared to have taken a vice-like grip in the title race until last weekend’s controversial 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa and wins for chasers Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City squeezed things up at the top of the table.

Mourinho’s side still have a four-point lead over Arsenal and Liverpool, although they both have a game more to play, while fourth-placed City are six points back with three games in hand of Chelsea.

City are at home to bottom club Fulham on Saturday while surging Liverpool will be looking for a sixth consecutive victory when they go to a Cardiff City side fighting for survival.

Wenger branded Mourinho’s comments as “silly” and “disrespectful” last month after the Portuguese coach had mocked the Frenchman’s eight-season trophy drought.

“Am I afraid of failure? He is a specialist in failure. I’m not. So if one supposes he’s right and I’m afraid of failure, it’s because I don’t fail many times,” Mourinho said.

Wenger had sparked the exchange when he questioned Mourinho’s motives for saying his Chelsea side were “a little horse” in the title race with Manchester City a “jaguar”.

Arsenal appeared to be slipping out of contention after back-to-back away league defeats, but a grinding 1-0 win at north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur last weekend put them back in the mix for their first title since 2004 – the year Mourinho arrived in London calling himself the Special One.

Victory at Stamford Bridge, where Mourinho has never lost a league game, would put them within a point of the summit with a game in hand – which would be an impressive feat given injuries to Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Mesut Özil.

Czech midfielder Tomáš Rosický, whose thunderbolt sealed the points against Spurs, said the result at Chelsea would not necessarily be key to Arsenal’s hopes.

“It will be a vital game against Chelsea but still there are so many games to go so we don't know what will happen after that,” he told Arsenal’s website.

“It can change very, very quickly in two games and, of course, you talk about Chelsea and Man City but you have to talk about Liverpool as well.

“There are four teams there and it is absolutely exciting.”

Liverpool are still on a high after their 3-0 victory at outgoing champions Manchester United last week and will be expected to breeze past a Cardiff side that looks like being relegated after only one season in the top flight.

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