Arsene Wenger says his squad are determined to pass another test by beating Chelsea on Sunday at the Emirates.
Playing down the fact his previous squads have failed to overcome Jose Mourinho in 12 encounters during the Portuguese’s two spells at Stamford Bridge, the boss put the emphasis on the present not the past.
“We have not always lost, first of all, in 12 attempts,” reflected Wenger when quizzed on his record of seven defeats and five draws.
“We have come close to beating them a few times and they’ve always had very strong teams.
“I’m not a great believer in history. I just think football is down to the fact that the performance on the day will decide the game and the result, so let’s focus on that.
“We are on a good run and we have an opportunity to beat them at home, and we want to take it. From a good run of form you get a good belief and we have good solidarity. We know we have passed many tests recently where we were questioned.
“It’s the first time we’ve won away from home against Manchester City [in a while] and other things like that. We have passed many tests and we have another test on Sunday that we want to pass.
“It is very important for us to beat them. I think everybody on board is highly focused to achieve it. We will prepare well to do that.”
The last time the two sides met Arsene was involved in an unseemly touchline shoving match with Mourinho. That incident at Stamford Bridge in October, which the boss eventually apologised for, was merely one of a string of clashes that have peppered the last decade.
Asked about his non-existent relationship with his Chelsea peer, Wenger added: “I don’t know and I don’t want to talk about that.
“What is important is when the game starts at four o’clock, to have a great game. That’s what English football needs, to know that Arsenal against Chelsea is a big game and is not about the relationship between the managers.”
The other issue casting a shadow over the fixture is the return of Cesc Fabregas to the Emirates and the potential for abuse to be directed at him from the terraces. The Spaniard hasn’t set foot at the Emirates since his final game for the club in April 2011 and Wenger, as he did with the likes of Nasri, Adebayor and RVP, has called for calm.
“The regret I have is that he wanted to leave here,” said Wenger of his protégé.
“This club and myself had a very positive influence on Cesc’s life. I want every player to be respected, and [I want] Cesc Fabregas when he comes to the Emirates on Sunday to be respected like he deserves.”