Arsene Wenger rejected Jose Mourinho’s assertion that Arsenal abandoned their philosophy to secure victory against Chelsea in Sunday’s Community Shield at Wembley.
A fine first-half strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain proved enough to settle proceedings in English football’s annual curtain-raiser, giving Wenger his first win against Mourinho at the 14th time of asking.
The Chelsea manager subsequently referred to Arsenal as a team “that leaves their philosophy in the dressing-room [and] changes their attitude”, in an apparent swipe at the Gunners’ defensive approach in the second half.
Speaking to reporters, Wenger responded: “We abandoned nothing. We defended well. Our game is based on togetherness, on solidarity, and defending and attacking well.
“I believe that we defended because there was maybe a bit of a psychological hurdle ahead of my players. They were more concerned with protecting our lead against Chelsea rather than playing attacking football. We have to accept that and I don’t think that’s giving up your philosophy, it’s a punctual fact that we wanted to win a game like that. I’m quite proud of that.”
Wenger, who insisted that he had not taken extra satisfaction from finally masterminding a victory over Mourinho, highlighted the significance of former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech in preserving Arsenal’s advantage.
“He did well,” the Frenchman enthused. “Maybe he had an influence on the Chelsea players as well because they felt that, to score against him, they had to score the perfect goal.
“When you have that, sometimes you want to try too hard. It happened especially with Eden Hazard when he had that chance in the box.”
Jack Wilshere missed Sunday’s match due to an ankle problem which he sustained in training the previous day, with Wenger suggesting that it will only be “a matter of days” before the England midfielder is available again.
Wenger was also invited to comment on fresh speculation linking Arsenal with a move for Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema.
“No, nothing is happening,” he replied. “Honestly, no. I don’t know who brings that up. Is it Spanish media or English media? I don’t know.”