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ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger has refused to blame the Premier League for scheduling tomorrow’s kick-off against Southampton at midday, as long as the teams around the Gunners have the same short recovery period.
Arsenal’s final Europa League group stage game on Thursday night played out more like a glorified training session at Ashburton Grove, beating BATE Borisov 6-0 in front of under 30,000 fans.
But instead of playing late Sunday afternoon, Wenger’s men have been handed the early game slot due to the Liverpool and Manchester derbies being played on the same day.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte had similar complaints a few weeks ago when they were forced to play in the early Saturday slot after getting back from a Champions League match against Qarabag on Thursday morning.
However, Wenger was surprisingly calm with the quick fixture turnaround and though he said he was surprised by it, it is something he has had to get used to.
“I have nothing against the fact that we have to do this as long as our opponents have the same recovery days,” he said.
“That was not the case last week and may not be the case next week again. Between three days and four days is a massive difference [on the] recovery side. If we have to play every day I don’t mind, as long as our opponents play every day as well.
“I haven’t spoken to the Premier League but I think there is a job to do there and you have to respect the fairness of the competition and if you look at it, I believe that many teams don’t fight on the equal front on the recovery side.
“What I would like is the teams that with a tight schedule are faced with the same problems and I don’t mind, I can understand that we have to play all the games, I just want to play against teams with the same problem in Europe.”
Tomorrow’s match will be their first league match since the bizarre 3-1 defeat to Manchester United last Saturday, when they had 33 shots on goal and forced David de Gea into 14 saves.
Wenger admitted that picking the players up after such a strange set of circumstances has been difficult due to the nature of the performance.
“It was a different defeat to take because in football when you should win the game you want to take the points. All the numbers went for us and the result went against us, so that is always difficult to accept but we have to go into the next game and respond straight away.”
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