Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal’s poor record against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea may have been causing a “mental block”.
Prior to their Wembley meeting in the Community Shield, which Arsenal won 1-0, Wenger had never beaten a club side managed by Mourinho – a run that lasted 13 games.
As his side prepares to face the beleaguered champions on Saturday lunchtime, Wenger admits the Community Shield triumph may have stopped a “mental block” his players came up against when they faced Mourinho.
He said: “What you expect from these games is high intensity, full commitment and you want to prepare for that and play with full focus.
“For me what is important is that Arsenal win the game and that it can sometimes be a mental block for the players or a team when they do not beat a team so on that front it was good to win the Community Shield, yes.”
Wenger is looking for his side to bounce back from their 2-1 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia on Wednesday night. The manager insists he will not accept the tight turnaround between fixtures as an excuse for a poor performance.
“I don’t use the early kick-off as an excuse,” he said. “I knew time would be short and took the decisions a little bit linked with that.
“We are in a position where we can perform tomorrow.
“They are in the right frame of mind. These players have a strong mentality and want to put things right.
“But it is a different competition. We are on the back of wins against Newcastle and Stoke so let’s continue our good run.”
Mourinho’s reigning champions have won only one of their opening five Premier League fixtures but Wenger is not taking their London rivals lightly, instead focusing on getting the best from his side in matches against title rivals.
Wenger said: “We know our position at the end of the season will depend on how we do in the big games.
“I do not consider too much where Chelsea stand. I focus on us performing well tomorrow. I leave that to the specialists and take care of my own team and my own problems.”