Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has declared the Premier League title is ‘Chelsea’s to lose’.
Blues boss Jose Mourinho has repeatedly downplayed his side’s chances of winning the league, despite being top of the table.
However, the Gunners boss believes Mourinho’s comments come from a fear of failure.
“It is very open, only Chelsea can lose it now because they are in front and all the other teams can win it. I’ve always said many teams are in it and it will be very tight until the end,” he said.
Asked why, apart from himself and Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini, every other manager is ruling out title success, Wenger responded: “It’s a fear to fail.”
Wenger maintains his only focus will be on making sure Arsenal can finish above their rivals come May.
“If you’re not in the race you cannot lose it, if you declare yourself not in the race you cannot lose it, simple as that,” he said.
“I think just that our job is to be ambitious and to try to win, if we do not win to take full responsibility for that. That’s as simple as that and that’s how I see it.
“I say yes we are in it, yes we will have a go for it, we will absolutely give everything to go for it and if we don’t do it I will take responsibility for it, but I just see it like that.”
Wenger added: “We live in a league and in a country where we have one advantage – everybody can think what he wants, (but) it is very difficult when you’re first in the league to distract people.”
The French manager said Arsenal are looking forward to putting the record straight against Liverpool this weekend in the FA Cup after they were thrashed 5-1 by the Reds at Anfield.
Wenger was asked during Friday’s press conference whether Liverpool were the last team that his side wanted to play.
“No, it’s the first team we want to play,” Wenger answered.
“When you can put things right, what you want is an opportunity to do that and we have that opportunity.”
And he dismissed claims that he was prioritising the FA Cup as he bids to end a barren run of nine years without a trophy.
“We will go for any competition we can and the FA Cup is one of the competitions, since it’s our next game, of course, we will go for it.”
There were some boos from the home supporters at the final whistle against United on Wednesday night, and while Wenger can appreciate the disappointment, he called for their continued faith.
“I think the crowd is behind the team, but they were frustrated which is understandable. We were as well,” Wenger said.
“I cannot say I think the crowd will be behind the team (again), but if they were not behind the team that would be a surprise.
“We are one point off the leader (of the Premier League), we play in the Champions League, we play in the FA Cup, so if on top of that we have not a crowd behind us, that would be absolutely unbelievable.”
Wenger added: “We are professional football players. That means we have to cope with every single thing of the crowd, because that is the job.
“After that if you (fans) can help behind the team, that makes us even stronger.”
Wenger is likely to look to rest some players ahead of the Bayern tie, so Lukas Podolski could be given another chance to lead the attack in place of Olivier Giroud.
“He is an exciting player who always gives you a hope that he can score a goal, and at the moment we miss that a bit,” said the Gunners boss.
“He was basically out for a whole season (with a hamstring injury) and is a structure who needs to work hard, but he is getting better now.”
Culled from SKY SPORTS