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José Mourinho says Arsenal ditched attacking philosophy to beat Chelsea

There was no sign of any thawing in José Mourinho’s and Arsène Wenger’s relationship after Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Chelsea in the Community Shield. The pair sparked the season’s first handshake controversy by failing to acknowledge each other on the pitch after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal earned Wenger his first win over Mourinho at the 14th time of asking.

Mourinho also wondered why, when Chelsea are so often accused of parking the bus, Arsenal were not criticised for what he felt was a defensive approach. Chelsea’s manager did sound impressed with Arsenal’s defending, although it was possible to detect a whiff of mischief in the way he praised their tactics and said that they abandoned their attacking philosophy in order to beat the league champions.

Wenger and Mourinho did not shake hands after the final whistle and the Arsenal manager appeared to avoid his Chelsea counterpart after he had collected his winner’s medal. Mourinho had just congratulated Arsenal’s players, but Wenger steered clear of him.

Neither manager wanted to spend too much time on the subject. “I shook a few hands today after the game,” Wenger said. “There’s nothing special there.”

Mourinho said: “I was doing what the status of my club and my status as a manager I think I have to do for myself and the club which is to be there for the winners. To wait for them in a point that you only miss me if you want to miss me. Every Arsenal player came in my direction, which was the easiest thing to do because I was just there and if other people didn’t come in my direction that is not a problem, not a story and not the end of the world.”

Yet Mourinho has aimed a couple of barbs at Arsenal during pre-season. “We live in a job where you have to respect people and respect everybody,” Wenger said. “It’s a different job and it’s vital. I’ve said that many times in managers’ meetings that managers should respect each other.”

Mourinho argued that Arsenal adopted a counterattacking style. “For me it depends on the perspective because normally you like to say the team that is defensive and defends very well normally doesn’t deserve to win,” he said. “I have to go in your direction and say the best team lost and the defensive team won.

“But I also have my opinion and that is different from your opinion, and that is the team that defends well and the team that leaves their philosophy in the dressing room and change that attitude and philosophy and accumulate 10 players behind the ball all the time and play all the second half with nine players in front of the box. This is football, this is very good tactical organisation and in the perspective they scored one goal and deserved to win. Congratulations to them.

“One team played counterattack football and the other team had the initiative and played well without the sharpness that you need to be more aggressive when you have the ball.”

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Wenger did not quite agree with that assessment, although he admitted it was a mental boost for his players to beat Chelsea. “We abandoned nothing, we defend our game on togetherness and solidarity and on defending well and attacking well,” he said. “I believe today, yes, we defended, because maybe it was a psychological hurdle Chelsea had in the head of my players; we were concerned at 1-0 up to protect our lead rather than to play.

“We have to accept that. I don’t think that’s giving up our philosophy, it’s the fact in a game like that we wanted to win – that’s why we behaved like that. I’m proud of that.”

Wenger denied that it was a personal relief to beat Mourinho. “Honestly, I would say it didn’t play on my mind at all,” he said. “As long as I get it served every time in press conferences, it can have an impact on my team. Certainly the way my team performed, it was important to get it out of the way.”

Afterwards the FA even accepted  Mourinho’s criticism of the Wembley pitch, which it said was not as “mature” as it would have liked. Mourinho had quipped: “The pitch was a disaster … so bad and so slow.”

The FA spokesperson said: “We will continue to improve the quality of the pitch, which we have every confidence in. In this instance it is simply that the pitch is less mature than we would ordinarily wish given the summer concert season and the early start to the football calendar.”


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