Branded a “specialist in failure” by his Chelsea counterpart Jose Mourinho, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will hope his side prove otherwise when they host Liverpool in the FA Cup on Sunday.
In characteristic style, Chelsea manager Mourinho tried to up the tension in the Premier League title race on Friday when he accused Wenger of being a serial underachiever due to Arsenal’s nine-year trophy drought.
The Portuguese was responding to a suggestion from Wenger that Mourinho’s reluctance to talk up Chelsea’s own title credentials stemmed from a “fear to fail”.
Chelsea currently lead Arsenal by a point at the top of the table, with Manchester City and Liverpool in close pursuit, and with the four teams facing off in the cup this weekend, sparks seem set to fly.
Chasing a first trophy since their 2005 success in the FA Cup, Arsenal will not want for motivation against a Liverpool side who thrashed them 5-1 when the teams met last weekend.
Arsenal recovered to draw 0-0 at home to Manchester United in mid-week, but Wenger admitted afterwards that his players has been left “nervous” after their chastening experience at Anfield.
Nevertheless, the London club prevailed 2-0 when the sides met at the Emirates Stadium in November and Wenger is confident that his players will be determined to restore pride after their capitulation seven days ago.
“These guys are winners. When they lose in that way, believe me, they are hurt,” said the Frenchman. “When you can put things right, you want an opportunity to do that and we have an opportunity.”
Like Mourinho, Liverpool manager Rodgers has been eager to play down his side’s title chances, but after winning 3-2 at Fulham on Wednesday the Merseyside club are only four points off the pace in the league.
The Northern Irishman described Liverpool as the “chihuahuas” of the title race, in a reference to a remark from Mourinho that Chelsea were the “little horse” to Arsenal and City’s stallions.