On the face of it, you could say that it should not really matter if Arsenal and Arsene Wenger cannot end the run of games against the Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho without a victory. That run stretches over the Portuguese manager´s two spells at Stamford Bridge and although it is annoying, the two league games between us are only worth six points.
So you could say that even if the Gunners had won both of them last season, instead of losing away and drawing at home, we would still have finished behind them in the Premier League table. The reason I am writing this is because of a Sky Sports report today in which the former Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino declared that Arsenal, or Man City for that matter, would have won the title with Mourinho in charge last season.
Cascarino said, “I believe that if Mourinho was manager of Arsenal, he’d have won the league. Likewise with Man City. That’s the quality he brings.
“John Terry said Petr Cech is worth 15 points. Maybe so. Mourinho is worth more than that to Chelsea.
“We saw two Chelseas in the season. We saw a very entertaining one and then, when it got tight, they became tight and didn’t give too much away. That’s to do with the manager.
“How did they win the league? By being tactically brilliant. It’s no coincidence that in the last two years none of their major rivals have been able to beat them.
“That’s a massive disadvantage for them; he’s hurting every one of his rivals every time they play.
“Chelsea are the ones to beat. Arsenal and City have got to be better tactically. United is interesting because of the big kitty they have to spend but they’ll still have to gel that group together if they bring in new players.
“All the things that other teams have to do – sort their tactics out, gel together – Chelsea have already done. All they’re doing now is what United and, before that, Liverpool used to do: add one or two to a group that was being successful to refine it.
“If you want to win the league next season, you’ve got to beat Chelsea.”
His theory is that Mourinho´s tactics, which have seen Chelsea avoid defeat to any of their big rivals since his return, is the difference. Now while I do agree that these big games are important, I also think that Arsene Wenger has got his head around this after the heavy defeats the Gunners suffered the previous season with an over adventurous game plan.
The boss put that right and we saw the value of this in the second half of the season, but could Mourinho really have done much better with Arsenal in the early stages, when we were ravaged by injury problems and had players like Ozil and Mertesacker woefully short of their best form?
And if getting the tactics right against your main rivals is the key to winning the league, why did it not work for Chelsea the previous season? Do you think Arsenal would have finished top with Mourinho in charge last season? And do we really have to defeat them on the pitch this time around?