29th October, 2013
Arsène Wenger has admitted Arsenal’s collision with Chelsea in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday at Emirates in London can have a “psychological influence on the team” as the Frenchman seeks a first victory over a side managed by José Mourinho to pep his players’ conviction that they are realistic challengers for honours this term.
The sides taking the field at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night will be radically different from those that compete each week in the Premier League, where the London rivals sit first and second, with fringe and younger players hoping to seize an opportunity to impress. Yet Wenger, although initially reluctant to heap more significance on the derby, did concede benefits could be reaped before more critical contests in the weeks ahead.
“What is for sure is that you want to win these sort of games,” the Arsenal manager said. “I’m not sure it will affect the Premier League at all, but you know people will look at you, how you behave and whether you can win the big games like that. That has a certain psychological influence on the team. We haven’t won the title for a few years and people question that now. At the end of the day, the Premier League will reflect the quality of the performances of the team throughout the season and how well you do in the big games. This is a good opportunity for us to show we are ready.”
Wenger, whose Arsenal played Mourinho’s Chelsea eight times during the Portuguese’s initial period at Stamford Bridge from 2004 to 2007 and never won, endured an acrimonious relationship with his London rival during those three years. The Frenchman’s side had just completed an unbeaten league campaign and were the reigning champions when Mourinho arrived in the Premier League, only for Chelsea to establish themselves as the dominant force over the next two seasons.