Jose Mourinho: I always consider Arsenal title contenders when a season startsArsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Archive
By Tom Moore Saturday, September 14, 2013Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho believes that Arsenal are worthy title contenders and has always considered them that way.
Despite their struggles in recent years to mount a sustained challenged, Mourinho never writes Arsene Wenger’s side off.
“I always think they are when a season starts. I think they are. I’ve always liked their squads.
“[Theo] Walcott is not a 17-year-old boy any more. He’s a starting player for England.
“[Santi] Cazorla is world champion. We’re not speaking about that young team that we played at Cardiff in the Carling Cup final [the Blues triumphed 2-1 but the contest was marred by three red cards in stoppage time as Arsenal’s Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor and Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel were dismissed for a mass brawl].
“They’re a top team with top players with the most experienced manager in the Premier League.
“For me, they were title contenders without [new signing] Mesut [Ozil].
“They are title contenders with Mesut.
“When they lost to Villa I said that, for me, the defeat means nothing.
“After that they start winning matches and some of them very difficult. Mesut is a fantastic player so they are better.”
Many consider the £40million spent on Ozil was the first time the Gunners have spent big but Mourinho believes they have in the past, although transfer fees were much less before he first arrived at Chelsea in 2004.
“I don’t know but I was not here,” he said. “I arrived in 2004 but I think when they had Thierry Henry, Bergkamp and Overmars I think they spent some.
“Not £40million but times change. I think that Mesut is good for them.