ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger insisted that goalkeeper Petr Cech presented Chelsea’s players with a psychological dilemma and admitted that FA Community Shield victory over the Blues meant his side had overcome a mental barrier of their own.
Former Chelsea stopper Cech, 33, joined FA Cup winners Arsenal in the summer for £10m after a highly successful 11-year stint at Stamford Bridge in which he claimed 13 major trophies.
His competitive debut for the Gunners coincided with Wenger’s first managerial victory over Mourinho – at the 14th attempt – and the Frenchman accepted that finally dispatching a Chelsea side managed by the Portuguese was a significant demon to exorcise.
“Cech did well and maybe had an influence on the Chelsea players as well because they feel to score against him they have to score the perfect goal and when you have that sometimes you want to try too hard,” said Wenger. “I can honestly say it [not beating Mourinho] didn’t prey on my mind but, as long as I got it served, it could impact upon the team. It was important to get that hurdle out of the way.”
Wenger confirmed that he expects midfielder Jack Wilshere, absent with an ankle injury, to be back in full training within “a matter of days”. He also distanced himself from reports linking Arsenal with a move for Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.
“Honestly, no. I don’t know who brings that up, whether it is Spanish media or English media,” he added.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who gave his losers’ medal to a young Arsenal fan, was unable to provide any guarantees over whether hamstring victim Diego Costa will be fit for Saturday’s opening Premier League clash with Swansea.