Arsene Wenger says his players overcame a mental block when they beat Chelsea in the Community Shield and he’s hoping for more of the same when Arsenal take to the Stamford Bridge turf on Saturday afternoon.
The boss – at the fourteenth time of asking – finally enjoyed victory against Jose Mourinho when the Gunners beat the Blues 1-0 at Wembley last month and he firmly believes his players can use the result as a building block for future success against the reigning champions.
“It can sometimes be a mental block for the players or the team when they do not win against certain teams,” he told his pre-game press conference on Friday. “On that front it was good [to win the Community Shield].
“What you expect from these kinds of games is [that they are] always high intensity, full commitment and of course you want to prepare for that and play with a full focus.
“For us it’s a big game. Let’s not forget it’s the start of the season and only five games have been played. We know our position at the end of the season will depend on how well we do in the big games.
“I do not think too much about where Chelsea stand in the league at the moment. I focus more on us performing well, with full power.”
A win for Arsenal would see them extend the gap on Chelsea to nine points and leave the West London side with a mountain to climb in their bid for successive titles.
“These are very difficult situations to assess,” he said when asked about the pressure that Mourinho might be feeling after his side’s poor start to the season.
“There are always periods where things don’t go as well. We are used to dealing with that. It is less enjoyable when it doesn’t go well of course but I think everybody who has stayed a long time in the game knows that.”
Saturday also marks Petr Cech’s first game back at Stamford Bridge since his summer departure after a decade at Chelsea. The Czech, who kept a clean sheet against his old teammates at Wembley, will return in goal having been rested for the defeat in Croatia on Tuesday.
On the subject of his summer signing’s reunion, Wenger added: “It is always difficult to go back to your club and play but I believe that he has fortunately handled that this season, [and] that is why I decided to play him as well in the Community Shield. It is the first step that is important and he has dealt very well with it.”