Jose Mourinho claimed Arsenal were lucky to end Arsene Wenger’s woeful record against his old rival, but the Manchester United manager insisted he wasn’t bothered because the Europa League is more important.
Gunners boss Wenger was able to celebrate a first Premier League victory over Mourinho at the 13th attempt as Arsenal won 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Goals from Granit Xhaka and Danny Welbeck shattered United’s 25-match unbeaten run in the league as sixth-placed Arsenal closed the gap on fourth-placed Manchester City to six points with a game in hand.
Fifth-placed United are four points behind City with three games left, but Mourinho had already surrendered in the top-four race after sending out a weakened team against Arsenal as he prioritised the midweek Europa League semi-final second leg against Celta Viga.
United, who hold a 1-0 lead from the first leg, will qualify for the Champions League if they win the Europa League, so Mourinho wasn’t too concerned with the result against Arsenal.
Not that it stopped him getting a dig in at his old rival Wenger after Arsenal’s fortuitous opening goal saw Xhaka’s shot deflect in off Ander Herrera.
“Of course we knew we were not coming in our maximum power. That’s a decision,” Mourinho said.
“We want to try to win the Europa League. It’s more important than finishing fourth. We needed to rest players. “I’m disappointed with the result, not the performance.
We lost because we didn’t score and we had great chances to score before them.
“They had luck with that first goal. I can’t ask anymore from my players who haven’t played a minute for several weeks. “The team was good, organised, we played to win and Arsenal weren’t better than us in my opinion.”
After a turbulent season that featured calls for his resignation from angry Arsenal fans, Wenger could have revelled in a rare upbeat moment this term.
But the Frenchman opted against taunting Mourinho, preferring to urge his players, who are also in the FA Cup final against Chelsea, to finish the season strongly.
“We have had many draws (against Mourinho) as well and there were some fantastic teams that we played against. It is not manager against manager,” he said.
“It was a patiently built win where in the first half you could see we were a bit nervous, in the second half we took the edge off and scored the goals.
“We still have a mathematical chance but we need some help. But the best help we can get is by winning our own games.