Arsenal are Premier League title contenders, insists Jose Mourinho
Chelsea's Jose Mourinho says Arsenal are Premier League title contenders because of the talent developed by Arsene Wenger
Arsenal are Premier League title contenders because of the talent developed by manager Arsene Wenger in recent years, according to Jose Mourinho.
The north London club last won the Premier League title in 2004, when they swept all before them to finish the domestic campaign unbeaten.
Since then, the Gunners have finished third on three occasions, failing to match their exploits from that season eight years ago but Mourinho feels this year will be different.
“When a season starts I always think they are [title contenders],” Mourinho said. “I always like their squad.
“When you look at their squad and you think who they are; [Theo] Walcott is not a 17-year-old boy anymore. Each year he is a starting player for England.
“[Santi] Carzola is a world champion. We are not speaking about that young team who we played at Cardiff in the Carling Cup final [in 2007]. They are a top team with top players and the most experienced manager in the Premier League.”
Of the starting 11 which played in that final – Chelsea were 2-1 winners – only Abou Diaby and Theo Walcott remain at the club.
And the Portuguese coach, 50, believes that the Emirates outfit are a much stronger side now than during his first Chelsea tenure – but not necessarily because of new £42.4m signing Mesut Ozil.
“For me they were title contenders with or without Mesut Ozil,” he added.
Mourinho also feels that the Gunners’ opening day loss to Aston Villa will have little bearing on how well Wenger’s side perform throughout the season.
“When they lost their first match against Aston Villa, I don’t know if I told you [the media] that for me that defeat meant nothing because I think they have a good team,” he continued.
Demba Ba was linked with a switch across London on transfer deadline day but Arsenal failed to stump up the £3m asking price Chelsea wanted.
However, Mourinho says the fee did not reflect his interpretation of Arsenal’s strength and he was quite willing to let Ba move to north London.
The Blues boss was also keen to point out that Victor Moses was loaned out to Liverpool, who are a club he feels will compete for the top spots in the league, too.
On Ba’s failed move, Mourinho said: “It was just the market, the opportunities it offers and the player’s desires.
“It is probably much more important for us that Romelu Lukaku goes on loan and plays every week than Demba when you know the characteristics of someone coming in.
“Demba and Fernando (Torres) gives us great balance in terms of the three strikers. Moses went to Liverpool and they are a club who fights with us for the top positions.”