Will the Mourinho jinx continue at Manchester United? by Twig
One of the most fascinating personal battles in football is the one between Wenger and Mourinho. In 13 meetings between these two great managers, Mourinho has always come out with at least a draw, scoring 21 goals and conceding a paltry 5 goals. What makes it most fascinating is that no matter how demoralized and out of form Mourinho’s team has been, they always manage to up their game, somehow, and get a result against Arsenal. For example, although Chelsea had one of their worst seasons last year, they were still able to call upon Mourinho’s old mastery over Wenger to secure an aggregate 3-0 win against Arsenal. And that was a Chelsea side that had suffered ignoble defeats to the likes of West Brom and Bournemouth!
Chelsea and Mourinho have since parted ways of course and the former Blues manager has now found a new life at Old Trafford. Arsenal and Manchester United will be doing business again this season at some point, and you wonder if Wenger has done enough to secure victory against Mourinho this time around. Mourinho has been very busy: he has secured the signings of Ibrahimovic, Mkhitaryan and the record-breaking capture of Paul Pogba. Wenger hasn’t been as lively in the market. After the early capture of Granit Xhaka, Wenger has preoccupied himself with securing “one for the future” signings, who will probably play no major role for Arsenal this season, or even play for the first team in future while Wenger is Arsenal manager for that matter. Other than that, the Arsenal team remains primarily the same as last season.
Mourinho has had an impressive start too. He has won all his games so far, won the season’s first title, and is already being repaid by Ibrahimovic, who’s the early season’s top goal scorer. For Wenger, the case is starkly different. Arsenal lost 3-4 at home to Liverpool last week, in a game that could well have ended 1-6, and we endured a bore-draw against Leicester.
While Mourinho has gone aggressively buying players, Wenger has been passing (uninvited) comments at the signings of Ibrahimovic and Pogba, which drew a not surprisingly angry response from Mourinho. The Manchester United squad is also brimming with optimism. Rooney has found new form while the very public bromance between Ibrahimovic and Pogba can only have positive impact on the pitch.
Meanwhile, Wenger’s team is beset with several problems. two of Wenger’s senior centrebacks are injured while the other is only regaining full fitness. two midfielders have already been lost just after the first game of the season. The club’s two best players, Ozil and Sanchez, are yet to sign contract extensions. In fact, a recent report suggested that Ozil will jump at a chance to rejoin Madrid. And you wouldn’t really blame him will you? (It may surprise some Gooners but players also follow the transfer businesses of their clubs as keenly as fans! Just that they don’t speak too much about it) At the transfer front, there also seems to be an alarming sign that Arsenal is losing its pulling power, having been snubbed or failed to secure the signings of Vardy, Higuain and lately Mahrez.
Arsenal also has tactical problems. It is still unclear who the central striker for the season will be, with Giroud, Walcott and now Sanchez all being considered. While Arsenal have been put off by the £60M asking price for Lacazette – who will certainly solve some of their striker issues – Manchester United seem to have no such problems with the (potentially overpriced) signing of Pogba. At the moment it seems that Wenger has decided to commit to Sanchez for the number 9 role. However, Sanchez has played there severally – including last week – and has been unconvincing in all attempts. You feel that this tactical confusion of who should be the striker for Arsenal will continue up to May next year.
In short, while things look rosy and good for Mourinho, the season is already on the brink of a disaster for Arsenal, especially if we do not win our game today. So what do you think Gooners? Has Arsene done enough to score one against his old rival this season or will it be routine triumphs for Jose Mourinho?
PS Wenger did beat Mourinho last season to the Community Shield, of course, but for most ambitious Arsenal fans, that doesn’t count.