Jose Mourinho has stoked the fire of rivalry between himself and Arsene Wenger, dismissing suggestions the Arsenal helmsman made about Juan Mata's move to Manchester United.
Earlier this week, Wenger stated his belief, per Sky Sports, that Mata's £37 million move to the Theatre of Dreams was lacking in "fairness."
Mourinho hit back on Friday, suggesting Wenger should be delighted that a title rival has sold a top player, per Henry Winter of The Telegraph and ESPN's Miguel Delaney:
Mourinho: "If Wenger sells Ozil to Man United in this moment, I will be very happy, because he's selling a very important player..."— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) January 24, 2014
The quotes came from the press conference at the Cobham training ground, where Chelsea's FA Cup fourth-round tie against Stoke City was the lowest of topics on the agenda.
Wenger is of the impression that because Chelsea have already played the Red Devils twice this term, any helping hand Mata now lends to David Moyes will merely be to the disadvantage of Chelsea's closest foes, saying, per Sky Sports:
I am surprised. Juan Mata is a great player and they sell a great player to a direct opponent.
Chelsea have already played twice against Man United, they could have sold him last week.
I think if you want to respect the fairness for everybody, this should not happen.
I can understand completely what Chelsea are doing, and they do not make the rules, but maybe the rules should be a bit more adapted for fairness.
It's only three weeks until Arsenal play host to United, looking to earn redemption for the 1-0 loss suffered at Old Trafford back in November.
While one can't say that the 25-year-old's arrival completely switches Moyes' luck this season, Arsenal's task will certainly be more difficult with Mata lining up against them.
Mourinho remains innocent as ever, though, insisting Chelsea saw the Red Devils' offer as sufficient, and wish their playmaker all the best in his new setting, per the team's official Twitter account:
Mourinho: 'The offer we have received we feel is the right offer for the quality of player.' #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) January 24, 2014
Mourinho: If the fans are sad that Juan is leaving, I will say that we are also sad. Noone is jumping around the place.' #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) January 24, 2014
That being said, there was one comment from the Blues' boss which stood out among the rest:
Mourinho on Mata: 'He is a fantastic player. In spite of not playing much for us, I still think he could be important for us.' #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) January 24, 2014
With this, Mourinho would appear to suggest the damage Mata can now do to others outside Stamford Bridge is indeed of Chelsea's benefit—despite not directly earning the West Londoners points themselves.
Delaney also reports Mourinho touching on the Gunners' supposed "fortune" when it comes to cup competitions and their scheduling:
Mourinho: "Wenger says this is not fair but what is not fair is that his team always has the best days to play."— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) January 24, 2014
Arsenal take on Coventry City in the FA Cup on Friday, while Chelsea must wait until Sunday for their meeting with the Potters, prompting Mourinho to make such claims.
Of course, the matter is out of Wenger's hands and, irrespective of the magic he's worked so far this season, orchestrating the manipulation of fixtures is beyond even his powers.
Nevertheless, Mourinho's return to the English top flight continues to show us why a second stint in the Premier League was so highly anticipated, the manager as happy as ever to oblige with a thorny remark.