Chelsea vs. Arsenal: Why Jose Mourinho Has Psychological Edge on Arsene Wenger

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistOctober 3, 2014

(FILE PHOTO - EDITORS NOTE: COMPOSITE OF TWO IMAGES - Image Numbers 177996036 (L) and 452339145) In this composite image a comparison has been made between Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho (L) and Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger. The Premier League match between Arsenal and Chelsea takes place on December 23, 2013 at the Emirates Stadium, London, England. ***LEFT IMAGE*** MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) ***RIGHT IMAGE*** LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Manager Arsene Wenger of Arsenal looks on during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Arsenal and Olympique de Marseille at Emirates Stadium on November 26, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Getty Images/Getty Images

There are times when it's clear Jose Mourinho is at ease.

The smile returns, he enjoys the back-and-forth jesting with the media and he jokes. A lot.

Facing the press ahead of this weekend's Premier League clash with Arsenal, it was one of those times when the Portuguese was relaxed enough to share a chortle.

"Me against Arsene Wenger? I have never had the pleasure to play one against one with him," he laughed after being asked about his record when facing the Arsenal boss.

"Beach soccer or something, I have never had that pleasure. It's always between Chelsea and Arsenal, and even that doesn't play an important part of Sunday's game."

COBHAM, ENGLAND - MAY 02:  Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho talks to the press at the Chelsea Training Ground on May 2, 2014 in Cobham, England.  (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)
Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Mourinho's record against Wenger is impeccable. They've faced each other 11 times during his two spells as Chelsea boss, and Mourinho has never lost.

Six wins and five draws speak for themselves.

Whatever it is, Mourinho has it over his old adversary.

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He may try to suggest otherwise when speaking publicly, but Mourinho knows. It's why he's so willing to fire the insults and retorts Wenger's way at the slightest sign of an uprising.

It's almost like he's controlling him, playing the role of master puppeteer.

Indeed, it was interesting when the Portuguese discussed that unbeaten record against Wenger. Suggesting the pair have never met one-on-one, he forgot to mention how often he has left his opposite number battered and bruised in public.

Take his comment to reporters in February about Wenger's record at Arsenal this past decade.

"He's a specialist in failure," was Mourinho's response after the Frenchman had suggested he was scared of failing in the title race.

It was perhaps a harsh summary of his legacy, but then if we're judging by silverware, it was a statement that carried an element of truth given that Arsenal were on a nine-year trophy drought at the time.

Mourinho's logic was simple. If Wenger was going to step into his arena and use the media to push an agenda, he would knock him back down. He would remind him of the rules of engagement.

Inevitably, Mourinho was asked if he regretted what he said ahead of their latest meeting.

"What I said was a consequence of something," he said. "It was not a deliberate attempt to say something."

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 22:  Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal is greeted by Jose Mourinho manager of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on March 22, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard H
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

There was no apology, nor was there an attempt at one. Why would there be? It would show weakness, and where Mourinho is concerned, that wouldn't be acceptable.

In Mourinho, Chelsea have a man who is a rare breed of manager.

Wenger is the statesman, the man willing to allow his work to do the talking for him while he remains quiet, observing from the background without offending anyone that often.

In contrast, Mourinho's approach is like that of his team. They play the game relentlessly, are brash and when the final whistle blows, that's his cue to take over, seamlessly moving to centre stage.

He embraces that side of his work—the dark arts, shall we say—always ready to make a headline and challenge the resolve of his rivals. Mourinho manipulates situations and isn't embarrassed to do it.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 22:  Oscar of Chelsea celebrates scoring their fourth goalwith Fernando Torres and Andre Schurrle of Chelsea  during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on March 22, 2014 in London, Engl
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

He utilises every aspect of football, turning it into power for his own gains. Whether it be the media, his players, his team talks, the riches of his owner—Mourinho blends it all together.

Sir Dave Brailsford calls it marginal gains. In football, it's often cited as something very different: mind games.

Where Wenger is concerned, Mourinho facing him has always been akin to a heavyweight facing a lightweight.

On the surface, it appears interesting. Here are two managers with significant reputations who have made a significant impact on the game in the modern era. They've won trophies, league titles and set records, but the billing is far more wholesome than the actual event.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 22:  Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on March 22, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

When the punches are thrown, Mourinho's always land whereas Wenger's barely register.

In every area, Mourinho shows his superiority. If Wenger challenges it, he's reminded who the boss is around here.

"The 6-0 result is once every 50 years. It's not year after year, it's something that happens occasionally," Mourinho reflected when asked if the humbling of Arsenal in March would have any bearing on this weekend's result.

"Sunday's game is out of that context. What happened in the past happened in the past and this is another match."

It's true. The scoreline in March is irrelevant. What isn't, though, is the fact Chelsea won. Mourinho beat Wenger. Again.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - AUGUST 18:  Manager Jose Mourinho of Chelsea arrives prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Burnley and Chelsea at Turf Moor on August 18, 2014 in Burnley, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

That record alone hangs like a noose around the Arsenal manager's neck. Whenever he faces Chelsea, it's dragged up. The questions are asked.

His players will change, the team selection will be altered from March. The record remains, though. Mourinho remains and Wenger cannot escape him.

"I always expect [to win] every game, against every opponent. Nothing changes in relation to that. I always expect," Mourinho concluded.

There's an argument to suggest Wenger thinks the same.

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes.