This is the part of the season when mind games between title challengers start. Jose Mourinho, unsurprisingly, has begun it this season by claiming that title rivals Arsenal have always been favoured this campaign when it comes to fixture schedule. His comments came prior to the FA Cup clash with Stoke City. Arsenal played their FA Cup match against Coventry City on Friday, while Chelsea had to wait until Sunday in order to finish their FA Cup commitments for the fourth round.
Arsene Wenger has
“It is simple. If you look at the fixtures and analyse them you can see that Arsenal is behind all the other teams.
“In the last five years all the studies that have been made show Arsenal have had less rest than any other team in the top four.
“This is fact. It has nothing to do with my opinion, it is an independent company which has made that and has shown that Arsenal has had less rest between the games than any other top-level team.
“This [Mourinho’s comments] is an opinion and I don’t live with opinions. I live with facts.”
Arsenal have enjoyed several days to prepare for their league encounter against Southampton, who have been on a wretched run of form. Chelsea, meanwhile, will have a day place to prepare for the crucial London derby against West Ham. Despite West Ham’s poor run of form, they are expected to put up a strong fight.
Mourinho is unlikely to be worried about the response from Wenger. In fact, he would be extremely happy for such a response. It sparks the infamous memories of former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez ranting about the ‘facts’ he had about Manchester United. Liverpool, who then had a great shot at the title, collapsed spectacularly from then on and finished second in the table behind United.
There is a danger of the same fate befalling Arsenal, who have a tough fixture schedule coming up in the month of February and March. Apart from games against Bayern Munich and Liverpool in the cup competitions, they also face the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool in the league.
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