The waiting is nearly over as the new 2015-16 English Premier League season looms large on the horizon. But first, two old adversaries go head-to-head once again as Arsenal play Chelsea in the annual curtain raiser on Sunday to herald the start of the English domestic football season.
Wenger v Mourinho show
There has been a mutual loathing between Sunday’s two managers that dates back almost to the time that the self-titled “Special One” Jose Mourinho, came to England in the summer of 2004. A series of snide remarks aimed at destabilising the harmony in their respective squads. The latest “war of words” as the UK media tend to call these things, centres around Mourinho explaining at a press conference in the USA (where his team had been taking part in the International Champions Cup), that Arsenal coach Arsène Wenger, now had no more excuses for his team not winning the Premier League after spending a considerable amount of money on the squad over the past few years.
Arsenal have invested around €120 million on new talent in the past 12 months and their main acquisition this summer has been former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech who was brought from the house of Mourinho for €15 million. At the club’s open training day at the Emirates Stadium earlier this week, Wenger hit back by declaring that; “We spend when we think we have to spend and do not listen to what people think or say.” He continued to explain that; when we don’t have the money, we don’t spend the money we haven’t got.”
Balancing the Books
A quick look at the balance sheets since 2013 tends to back up Mourinho’s theory. His Chelsea team’s net spend totals out at around €52 million, this is mainly due to some big name departures from the club such as defender David Luiz and midfielder Juan Mata who brought in €109 million. Arsenal’s total net sales for this period work out at around €51 million offset against an investment of €202 million acquiring new talent. It will be a shame if the two high profile protagonists allow their personal vendetta against each other to overshadow what could be a highly entertaining contest.
Around the World in 30 Days
Chelsea have spent the summer hot footing it around the world, appearing in exhibition matches in Thailand and Sydney before arriving in the USA to appear at the International Champions Cup tournament. Their two main summer acquisitions have been striker Radamel Falcao, who has joined on loan from Monaco after Manchester United refused to take up their option to buy, and Bosnian international goalkeeper Asmir Begović, who arrives from Stoke City.
Home Sweet Home
Arsenal paid a visit to the Far East in the early part of pre-season, picking up the Asia Trophy after wins against a Singapore Select XI and Everton. They returned home last weekend to host the Emirates Cup which they won in emphatic style crushing Lyon 6-0 in their opening match, before beating Wolfsburg 1-0 in match day two. The coming season will be one of the biggest in Wenger’s 19 years at the helm,despite the comments by his opposite number, the domestic league title hasn’t been won since 2004 and that is simply not good enough for a club the size of Arsenal. The owners have given the 65-year-old their full support, now the man from Strasbourg must deliver the ultimate prize.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1) Cech; Gibbs, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Debuchy; Ramsey, Coquelin; Walcott, Özil, Wilshere; Giroud
Chelsea (4-2-3-1)Courtois; Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanović; Oscar, Matić; Hazard, Fàbregas, Willian, Diego Costa
By Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)