Friday, 21 March 2014 | MYT 5:25 PM
Make Jose eat his words, Wenger
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has a chance to make Jose Mourinho eat his words and prove that he is not a 'specialist in failure'. — EPA
THIS is Arsene Wenger’s chance to make Jose Mourinho eat his words and prove that he is not a “specialist in failure”. With the Stamford Bridge showdown being Wenger’s 1,000th match in charge, it couldn’t be more felicitous.
It will not be easy though, not against a Chelsea side galvanised by their win over Galatasaray on Tuesday and qualifying for the Champions League quarter-finals. And not with the Premier League title at stake.
It will be a question of who want it more.
Sadly, the Gunners’ title talk has not been matched by their passion or hunger on the pitch. Even when they were on top of the table, Arsenal were insipid against the big teams. They were easily obliterated by Manchester City and Liverpool and could not even beat struggling champions Manchester United. Against Chelsea in the corresponding match at Emirates last December, they delivered what many had tagged an “insomnia-curing” stalemate.
They were not at their best against their most hated rivals Tottenham Hotspur either last week but luckily managed to hold on for literally over 90 minutes for a 1-0 win after Tomas Rosicky scored the fastest Arsenal goal ever (1.12 minutes) against Spurs in the Premier League.
Deserved or not, Wenger had praised their “special resilience”; what is certain is that it is something they need to draw on Saturday against Chelsea.
Arsenal hopefuls are looking at their ugly win as a sign that their team might finally have it to go all the way.
They have got Aston Villa to thank again this season after the Villans pegged the Blues with a shock 1-0 win and opened up the title race.
A lot of responsibility will be pinned on centrebacks Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, whose defensive grit helped shut out a spirited Spurs last week.
They will need the same focus and guile against arguably the Premier League’s best player Eden Hazard and seasoned striker Samuel Eto, who was sparkly and sharp against Galatasaray.
Arsenal’s own attack force is dented by the absence of four key players – Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, who suffered another setback on his return from a thigh injury.
Both teams will need to dig deep to find the winning goal(s) and a lot will depend on who can get the opener first.
According to Opta statistics, Chelsea have only failed to score four times in a decade at home to Arsenal. Gooners will be hoping for a fifth record on Saturday as a win will bring their team right back into title contention, just a point behind the Blues and with a game in hand.
Hariati is predicting a 1-1 draw.
The Official Arsenal Malaysia supporters club welcomes Arsenal fans to watch live matches at Herris Delicious Corner, 22A-1, Jalan PJU 8/3A, Perdana Business Centre, Damansara Perdana. Visit arsenalmalaysia.com for more details.