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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 9, 2006

Wenger confident of breaking Mourinho jinx

Arsene Wenger believes Chelsea were 'premature'in voicing their ambition to become the biggest club in the world by 2014 and maintains Arsenal have a richer history.

Blues chief executive Peter Kenyon laid out his vision for Stamford Bridge - the setting for tomorrow's showdown with Arsenal - in the build up to the 1-1 draw with Manchester United two weeks ago.

But Wenger insists it will take more than success alone to make Chelsea 'internationally recognised as the number one club', and used an example from the Spanish League to illustrate his point.

'Playing the best football is one of the things that makes a club bigger. You also have the natural size of the club built through history,' he said.

'It will always be that Real Madrid are bigger than Alaves, even if Alaves has a better team for a few seasons.

'Also you have the accumulation of history with players who are faithful to the club. A lot of things come into making a club big.

'Arsenal is a club that you could easily underestimate in terms of size because when we built the stadium we had the question, do we make 50,000, 55,000 or 60,000 seats?

'With a good team today maybe even 60,000 is too small.

'Whether Chelsea can become the biggest club in the world is also down to the size of the fanbase.

'That takes a very long time to build up and at the moment they are bit premature to say what they will do.'

Wenger has yet to taste victory over Chelsea under Jose Mourinho but after negotiating a recent rocky spell, the Frenchman believes there will be an upset at Stamford Bridge.

Arsenal's season was in danger of imploding following successive defeats by Bolton and Fulham but a 3-0 drubbing of north London rivals Tottenham and Wednesday's qualification for the Champions League knockout stage have stopped the rot.

'It does not bother me that I haven't beaten Mourinho. I am confident that we can make something special happen tomorrow,' said Wenger.

'We had a cloud over us for a while because we had not qualified for the Champions League until Wednesday and there were one or two disappointing results in the league.

'But since the beginning of the season the team has shown character in the big games and that's why I'm confident.

'This team has character, has quality. Where we have failed is not the big games. Opposite to in previous years, we have been 100% in every big game this year.

'Where we have dropped points is in the smaller games. Sometimes in the smaller games we are a bit too confident and after that not confident enough.

'The consequence of the first step is the second one.'

One of the key battlegrounds tomorrow will be Philippe Senderos' duel with in-form Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.

Wenger wanted to avoid matching Senderos against the player who gave him such a torrid time over three meetings last season but Kolo Toure's suspension and William Gallas' thigh injury mean the Gunners boss has little choice.

Senderos was sent off against Fulham to cap a miserable performance against the Cottagers but Wenger is backing the 21-year-old to prove to Drogba he has become a more formidable opponent since the last of their duels nearly a year ago.

'What happened with Drogba did affect Philippe but he is a resilient, strong character who is highly motivated,' said the Frenchman, who will select Senderos alongside Johan Djourou in defence.

'The Swiss pair will compliment each other and will support each other.

'Drogba will see a different Senderos. Senderos went through the whole Champions League campaign last year where he faced Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Trezeguet.'