'Mental block' lifted: Wenger

LONDON • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, while keen to play down his rivalry with Chelsea's Jose Mourinho ahead of today's Premier League meeting, claimed that his players may have overcome a "mental block" by defeating the champions in August.

Wenger has still never beaten Mourinho in 10 previous Premier League matches but Arsenal won 1-0 at Wembley in the Community Shield last month.

"It can sometimes be a mental block for the players when one team doesn't manage to beat a team so, on that front, it was good," he said yesterday.

The Frenchman declined to shake hands with Mourinho after that match but was reluctant to discuss whether he would do so at Stamford Bridge today.

"Look, too much attention is paid to it," Wenger said.

"People come to watch football - everything else is secondary."

Mourinho might have to be on his best behaviour. He is already facing a possibility of a five-match ban after a member of the public complained that he used sexist and abusive language against former team doctor Eva Carneiro. The Football Association said in a statement that it is investigating the incident, which took place during a league match against Swansea.

Meanwhile, Mourinho has defended under-fire Belgium star Eden Hazard.

The reigning PFA Player of the Year has yet to score this season. He missed a penalty in Chelsea's 4-0 Champions League win over Maccabi Tel Aviv in midweek.

"Eden is the best player playing in this country," said the Chelsea manager, adding that the forward will stay on penalty duty.

"It's not because a bad performance or a penalty missed, or not scoring goals for three or four weeks. He's the best. He'll be the best again. I don't know if it's tomorrow or next week but, one of these days, he will be Man of the Match."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2015, with the headline ''Mental block' lifted: Wenger'. Print Edition | Subscribe