Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho accused Arsenal of “crying” about decisions that went against them after the Blues bullied their way to a fiery 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium in London on Monday.
Mourinho’s side subjected Arsenal to some ferocious challenges as they hassled the Gunners out of their stride in a bruising London derby.
John Obi Mikel was fortunate to avoid a red card after the Chelsea midfielder crunched into Mikel Arteta, while Arsenal complained that they should have had a penalty for Willian’s challenge on Theo Walcott.
There were several other bone-jarring tackles that left Arsenal players writhing in agony and sent Gunners boss Arsene Wenger seething on the touchline, but Mourinho refused to apologize for his team’s no-holds-barred approach, instead taking the opportunity to get one more dig in on old rival Wenger and his players.
“They like to cry, that’s tradition,” he said. “I prefer to say that English people — and I give one example, [Chelsea’s] Frank Lampard — would never provoke a situation like that. Players from other countries, especially some countries, they have that in their blood. I prefer English blood in football and English blood in these situations is: ‘Come on, let’s go.’”
Asked about Mikel smashing into Arteta’s shin, Mourinho said it was a fair challenge.
“It was a hard one, an aggressive one. Football is for men, or for women with fantastic attitude,” Mourinho said. “Football is a game of contact. English football, winter, water on the pitch, the sliding tackles become at a fantastic speed. So be proud, play with pride.”
As well as having to contend with Chelsea’s aggressive tactics, Arsenal were also trapped in Mourinho’s tactical straitjacket.
The Portuguese coach has not lost to Wenger in their 10 meetings and this rarely looked like being the first defeat as his 4-5-1 formation stifled an already anxious Arsenal.
Frustrated Gunners fans responded by chanting “boring Chelsea” at the final whistle.
Responding sarcastically to the jibes, Mourinho said: “I’d agree. I played against them 10 times and I never lost. ‘Funny, funny Jose.’ Ten times, they don’t win once. What do you want to call me?”
Fourth-placed Chelsea are two points behind leaders Liverpool heading into the busy Christmas schedule, and Mourinho was adamant his defensive tactics were the right choice on a night when torrential rain and gale-force winds made smooth passing almost impossible.
“We came to win, but it was very important not to lose, because if we lose we are five points behind the leaders and, with a point, we are two points behind Liverpool and Arsenal,” Mourinho said.
Wenger inevitably saw it rather differently, but was careful not to be drawn into a war of words.
“Of course, I can understand that,” Wenger said with a wry smile when told Mourinho said he thought referee Mike Dean had a good game. “It’s Christmas, so let’s give everyone their own opinion and I can have mine. I don’t think he [Dean] had a great game at all. On the pitch, it [Mikel’s foul] looked bad, but the referee was in a good position. As for the challenge in the area, I think it was a penalty. Honestly. If I’m wrong, I apologize.”
Second-placed Arsenal have now gone four matches without a win in all competitions.