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Wenger: Nothing personal with Jose
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger maintains there will be nothing personal in his bid to beat Chelsea on Monday night as he tries to get the better of Jose Mourinho at the 10th time of asking.
The Gunners will retain top spot in the Barclays Premier League should they emerge victorious from the pre-Christmas showdown at the Emirates Stadium.
To do that, however, will require Wenger to succeed where his tactics have so far failed in each of the previous meetings with the Portuguese coach, now in his second spell in charge of Chelsea and whom has already beaten Arsenal once this season with a 2-0 win in the Capital One Cup tie in October.
"It is not a personal battle," Wenger insisted.
"Honestly, we had some big games in the past, but what is important for me is that I am completely focused on Arsenal Football Club and on my team and doing well in the team.
"Whether we play Monday night against Chelsea or anybody else, for me it is exactly the same, because what is at stake for us is to get back to winning habits, whether it is Chelsea or anyone else."
Wenger continued: "Chelsea were fantastic teams and he is a good manager, that together makes it difficult.
"I think we were close (to beating Chelsea) many times.
"Let us not forget that when we won the championship in 2004, Chelsea finished second and we had an unbeaten record.
"Mourinho came in and they bought (Didier) Drogba, (Ricardo) Carvalho and they were even stronger. He is as well a very good manager and they had a fantastic period."
Wenger has a more sedate relationship with Mourinho now than the pair endured in the past, with the Frenchman being labelled a "voyeur" by his rival manager in 2005 for comments about the goings on at Stamford Bridge.
"Once you are out of competition, everybody is different," Wenger said.
"We [have] spent time [together] in Geneva at the [UEFA] managers' meeting.
"Here is competition time, so everybody fights for his team and his club."
Arsenal head into the hectic festive schedule having to cope without midfielder Jack Wilshere for two matches, after the England international was handed a retrospective misconduct charge by the Football Association for raising his middle finger in the direction of Manchester City supporters during last weekend's 6-3 loss at the Etihad Stadium.
Captain Thomas Vermaelen looks set to return to the defence to partner Per Mertesacker as Laurent Koscielny is a major doubt after he suffered a deep gash in his knee just before half-time against City.
German forward Lukas Podolski could be involved for the first time since late August following his recovery from a hamstring tear.
Wenger feels whatever side he fields on Monday will be coming up against an opposing team full of ability, despite Chelsea having lost their Capital One Cup quarter-final at Sunderland in extra-time on Wednesday night.
"Chelsea are a good side with many good promising players, many good young players," said Wenger.
"They have a good offensive potential as well and for us it will be important to have a good defensive focus to find our defensive stability back and to stop them going forward.
"For the rest if you look at the names of their players, in every position they have great players."