Arsène Wenger hit back at Jose Mourinho on Sunday night, claiming that the latter was an embarrassment to Chelsea and “silly” and “disrespectful” for his latest attack on him.
As the animosity between the pair deepened, Wenger responded for the first time to Mourinho’s “specialist in failure” comments on Friday in the aftermath of Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Liverpool in the FA Cup fifth round, when the visitors felt aggrieved not to be awarded a second penalty by referee Howard Webb.
“I do not want to go into those silly, disrespectful remarks,” Wenger said immediately after the game. “I never spoke about him in my press conference and I will not start that. The only thing that I know, it is more embarrassing for Chelsea than for me.”
In his post-match press conference the Arsenal manager was just as unimpressed with what Mourinho had said. “I am embarrassed for him, honestly,” Wenger insisted, again denying he had said anything to insult Mourinho in the first place. “I would say that I didn’t speak about him at all in my press conference [on Friday]. Let’s focus on things in football. I am more disappointed for Chelsea than for me.”
In his words - Jose Mourinho's best quotes
In his words - Jose Mourinho's best quotes
1/15 'The Special One' arrives
'Please don't call me arrogant, but I'm European champion and I think I'm a special one'
At his unveiling as Chelsea manager in 2004.
2/15 Have you got a licence for that dog, Jose?
'The dog is fine in Portugal - that big threat is away - you don't have to worry about crime any more'
After the police questioned him over whether his dog had a pet passport.
3/15 The Devil in disguise
'Some clubs are treated as devils, some are treated as angels. I don't think we are so ugly that we should be seen as the devil and I don't think Arsene Wenger and David Dein (pictured) are so beautiful that they should be viewed as angels'
4/15 Arsene Wenger's appaent 'voyeur sickness'
'Wenger has a real problem with us and I think he is what you call in England a voyeur. He is someone who likes to watch other people. There are some guys who, when they are at home, have this big telescope to look into the homes of other people and see what is happening. Wenger must be one of them - and it is a sickness'
5/15 Look who's talking now
'I don't regret it. The only thing I have to understand is I'm in England, so maybe even when I think I am not wrong, I have to adapt to your country and I have to respect that. I have a lot of respect for Liverpool fans and what I did, the sign of silence - 'shut your mouth' - was not for them, it was for the English press'
Mourinho defends putting a finger to his lips during the 2005 Carling Cup final against Liverpool, an action which resulted in him being sent to the stands.
6/15 GI Jose
'Look at my haircut. I am ready for the war'
Unveiling a short crop.
7/15 On THAT Luis Garcia goal
'I felt the power of Anfield, it was magnificent. I felt it didn't interfere with my players but maybe it interfered with other people and maybe it interfered with the result. You should ask the linesman why he gave a goal. Because, to give a goal, the ball must be 100% in and he must be 100% sure that the ball is in'
Mourinho questions the validity of Liverpool forward Luis Garcia's goal which puts Chelsea out of the Champions League semi-finals in May 2005.
8/15 Jose's eggy farewell to Roman Abramovich
'No eggs, no omelette. And it depends on the quality of the eggs. In the supermarket, you have eggs class one, class two, class three. Some are more expensive than others and some give you better omelettes. So when the class one eggs are in Waitrose and you cannot go there, you have a problem'
A parting shot at Abramovich, coming ahead of his final match in charge, for the Russian's failure to buy quality players to help his injury-hit squad.
9/15 Mourinho v Barcelona
'Barcelona are a great club. But in 200 years of history they have won the European Cup only once. I have been managing for a few years and I have already won the same amount'
Barcelona went on to win the Champions League that season (2006) and in two further years (2009 and 2011), while Mourinho added a second with Inter Milan
10/15 Mourinho v Barcelona part II
'When I saw Frank Rijkaard (then Barcelona coach) entering the referee's dressing room I couldn't believe it. When Didier Drogba was sent off (after half-time) I wasn't surprised'
On losing to Barcelona in 2006. He was later given a touchline ban by UEFA.
11/15 Mourinho v Barcelona part III
'We have played against them four matches in two seasons. (When it was) 11 against 11 they never beat us. That is the reality'
After 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp in 2006 which sent Barca through to the quarter-finals 3-2 on aggregate.
12/15 Mourinho on his egg-cellent Chelsea squad
'Beautiful young eggs, eggs that need a mum, in this case a dad, to take care of them, to keep them warm during the winter, to bring the blankets and to work and improve them and one day we'll arrive in a moment when the weather changes, the sun rises, we break the eggs and the eggs are ready to go for life at the top level'
Mourinho has his chefs' hat on again to describe the squad he has inherited on his return to Stamford Bridge
13/15 I am the happy one
'If I have to describe myself, I would describe myself as a very happy person because it's the first time I arrive in a club where I already love the club'
Mourinho had the pleasure of being unveiled as Chelsea manager for a second time in the summer of 2013 and having labelled himself the 'Special One' first time around, was quickly given the label of the 'Happy One' after these comments.
14/15 Chelsea the Shetland pony
'Two horses and a little horse that still needs milk and to learn how to jump. A horse that next season can race'
Mourinho plays down Chelsea's title chances compared to Manchester City and Arsenal's following the 1-0 win over City
15/15 Specialist in failure
'He's a specialist in failure'
Mourinho gets himself labelled silly by Arsene Wenger and a bully by Bob Wilson after saying this about his Arsenal counterpart. It was in response to Wenger suggesting his title rivals were playing down their chances of winning the league due to a fear of failure.
Wenger made clear his disdain for this particular outbreak of “mind games” but predicted that the issue would not go away quickly. “I cannot force my interest in things that are not interesting for me, what is interesting for me is what happens on the pitch,” he said. “There is no final word in this, unfortunately.”
Mourinho had refused to apologise after Chelsea’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester City on Saturday, stating he was well within his rights to criticise his Arsenal rival.
Wenger was delighted with his side’s progress to the sixth round, where they will face Everton at home. “It was vital to respond to the disappointing performance at Liverpool last week,” he said. “I am very pleased with the intensity, commitment and determination.”
Arsenal went into a two-goal lead through Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski before Steven Gerrard pulled one back from the spot after Luis Suarez was fouled. Webb could easily have awarded another penalty for another trip on the striker soon afterwards.
Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, claimed that the incident was an even more obvious penalty than the first one. “The first one, Luis gets clipped and it’s a clear penalty. The second one was even clearer,” Rodgers said. “Howard is in a great position, I am not sure if it is because it was so quickly after the first one.
“It looked like a blatant penalty and we are bitterly disappointed to have not got that. It would be nice to know why it wasn’t given as it was a defining moment in the game.”
Wenger, though, suggested that Suarez had made the most of it. “Was it really genuine contact? It was contact I don’t deny that, but Suarez is very good at making more of it every time.”