Arsene Wenger is not normally one to get embroiled in a war of words, but in reacting Rafa Benitez-style to Jose Mourinho’s latest jibes, has the Frenchman lost his cool at precisely the wrong point in Arsenal’s season?
It’s often been suggested that Benitez‘s premeditated outburst to the media in reaction to Sir Alex Ferguson’s comments in January 2009, acted as the catalyst for the Reds’ run of three straight draws, which ultimately cost Liverpool the title behind Manchester United that season.
Jump forward to the present day and it’s Arsenal’s boss who may have just chomped too hard on Jose Mourinho’s bait, ahead of a difficult trip to St Mary’s – where the first-placed Gunners are still the 9/10 favourites to claim the three points.
Reacting angrily to Mourinho’s quip about Arsenal’s ‘favourable’ fixture list, Wenger invoked memories of Rafa.
‘It is simple – look at the fixtures and analyse it. I trust you will give an objective view,’ the Arsenal boss said.
‘You will see Arsenal are behind all the other teams. In the last five years all the objective studies that have been made show Arsenal had less rest than any other team in the top four.
He added: ‘It is not mind games. It is opinions. ‘But I don’t live with opinions, I live with facts and the facts don’t depend on me or Mourinho.’
Although Wenger appears to have delivered his address in a slightly calmer manner than Rafa, the parallels are there for all to see as like Sir Alex did to the Spaniard, Mourinho has clearly got under Wenger’s skin.
Like Rafa’s rant, Wenger’s was also delivered in January and with his club top of the pile and like Mourinho, Ferguson also targeted the fixture list as his weapon of choice.
The title picture is bound to look clearer after the 4/1-rated title shots face Liverpool and Manchester United in their next three league games after playing Southampton.
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