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Wenger saying no Mour' on 'fail' taunt

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will not let a war of words with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho deflect his focus ahead of today's Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge.

Wenger will take charge of the Gunners for his 1,000th match, looking to close up to within a point of the leaders.

Last month, Mourinho branded the 64-year-old Frenchman a "specialist in failure" in response to Wenger's own comments about the title race.

Wenger, however, does not intend to allow anything to get in the way of making sure his team produce the required performance to collect what would be a first victory over the Portuguese.

"I would keep that (his opinion of Mourinho) for myself. Tomorrow I represent my club, I don't represent myself and I will behave always in respecting the values of our club and keep my own feelings far away from that," said Wenger, whose last trophy came in 2005.

CHANCES

Mourinho has continually used his press conferences to talk down Chelsea's title chances, describing them as a "little horse" in the championship race.

Wenger, though, is not about to take any notice of such gamesmanship, preferring instead to let Arsenal do all of their talking with a football as the FA Cup semi-finalists look to build on last weekend's north London derby win at Tottenham.

"What gives the teams advantages is performances on the pitch," Wenger said when asked if Mourinho's pre-match statements had any real impact.

"Press conferences can be for you (media) less or more boring and I can understand you like some more than others, but the real excitement is the game on the pitch.

"You cannot say they (Chelsea) are favourites or not, but they are among the teams who are fighting to win the Premier League, nobody can deny that.

"What is very interesting is you have Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal (all fighting for the title) and that has not happened for years. None of these four teams can say they are not going for it, that would be stupid."

Wenger maintains the Chelsea clash is "the game of the season for us", with every point "vital now".

Mourinho has got the better of Wenger in each of their previous 10 meetings and the Portuguese coach has yet to lose a Premier League home match over two spells at Stamford Bridge.

Wenger said: "The result tomorrow will be linked with the performance of the day. We come out of winning 4-1 against Everton (in the FA Cup), we drew 1-1 at Bayern Munich (in the Champions League) and we won 1-0 at Tottenham.

"We are on a good run, so let's take the confidence out of this run to make another surprise tomorrow."

Arsenal will hand a fitness test to midfielder Tomas Rosicky, who has an ankle problem.

Wenger, though, confirmed yesterday that Japanese midfielder Ryo Miyaichi will miss the rest of the season due to a hamstring injury.

Mourinho decided to remind the Frenchman of his trophy drought which now stretches to almost nine years. Arsenal's most recent silverware came in the 2005 FA Cup; in his 500th, they lost to Mourinho's Chelsea, who successfully defended their Premier League title in 2006.

"I admire him and I admire Arsenal, because it's not possible to have 1,000 matches unless the club is also a fantastic club in the way they support the manager, especially in the bad moments and especially when the bad moments were quite a lot," Mourinho said.

The pair endured a frosty relationship during Mourinho's first spell and a truce proved temporary when the Portuguese felt so riled by Wenger last month that he re-engaged the hostility.

Mourinho described Wenger as a "specialist in failure" after the Frenchman commented that anyone ruling themselves out of the title race did so out of a fear of falling short.

REACTION

Mourinho's reaction was perhaps due to Arsenal, along with Liverpool and Manchester City, being rivals as the Blues chase just a second Premier League title since 2006 – Carlo Ancelotti led Chelsea to the 2010 championship – this season.

The Chelsea manager yesterday refused to apologise for the "failure" barb, after which he felt he was unfairly portrayed as the villain, and stopped short of joining those lauding Wenger's career.

"The tribute is to say that I believe that any one of us would love to have the same privilege (of getting to 1,000 games) with our clubs," Mourinho said.

Chelsea, who beat Galatasaray to advance to the Champions League quarter-finals in midweek, will be bidding to respond to last Saturday's controversial loss to Aston Villa, when Mourinho, Ramires and Willian were sent off.

Mourinho will contest his improper conduct charge, while Ramires is banned for three matches and Willian one, with both missing the Gunners visit.

Also absent today is former Arsenal left-back Ashley Cole (knee), but Nemanja Matic and Mohammed Salah are available after being ineligible in Europe in midweek.


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