Chelsea v Arsenal: Jose Mourinho turns attention to Premier League after Champions League progress, revealing begrudging respect for Arsene Wenger
The Blues bloss says if he reaches 1,000 matches in charge of one club, as Wenger will do this weekend, he would be 'the happiest manager in the world'
Wednesday 19 March 2014
Jose Mourinho's attention returns to the Premier League title race after Chelsea regained their place among the European elite by advancing to the Champions League quarter-finals.
The Blues will discover their last-eight opponents - with potential sub-plots aplenty - on Friday following Tuesday night's 2-0 defeat of Didier Drogba's Galatasaray, which completed a 3-1 aggregate triumph.
On Saturday the Blues will bid to respond to the loss at Aston Villa in the Premier League showdown with Arsenal, Gunners manager Arsene Wenger's 1,000th game in charge.
Wenger was branded a "specialist in failure" by Mourinho last month, but the Portuguese hinted at a begrudging respect as he hopes to one day emulate the Frenchman's landmark achievement.
"If Chelsea gives me the chance to arrive to 1,000 matches I'll be the happiest manager in the world," said Mourinho, the Premier League's only Champions League-winning manager.
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Mourinho has twice won the European Cup, with Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010, but fell short with Chelsea during his memorable first spell.
There are numerous possible mouth-watering ties, against Barcelona, Real Madrid, Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid while Mourinho has not yet ruled Manchester United out of contention as David Moyes' men bid to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit to Olympiacos at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
"We wait for the draw. It doesn't matter who," Mourinho said.
"All the big candidates to win the competition. Welcome to any one of them."
The Blues suffered the ignominy of becoming the first holders to exit the competition at the group stage last term, responding by winning the Europa League, but goals from Samuel Eto'o and Gary Cahill sealed a 2-0 second-leg win against Galatasaray and a quiet Drogba.
The Ivory Coast striker, scorer of 157 goals in 341 appearances for Chelsea, scored the decisive penalty in the shootout with Bayern Munich in 2012 and was presented with a silver boot by the Blues prior to kick-off.
"The most difficult thing was the way his team played," Mourinho said.
"When you are a striker, if your team doesn't produce attacking football you feel a lonely man.
"He couldn't do much. Gary and John (Terry) had a fantastic performance. We controlled the game so well that we could never see Didier in dangerous positions."
Gala boss Roberto Mancini was scathing of his side's performance.
The former Manchester City manager said: "We did nothing on the pitch. We played really bad."
Mancini led City to the 2012 Premier League title and was asked his opinion on the current four-team title race.
"I think that Manchester City's the best team," Mancini added. "They have the best players.
"I don't know if Liverpool, also doing very well in this moment, can win. I think it will be a fight till the end between City and Chelsea."
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