Tuesday 21 November 2017

Arsene Wenger says 'unfair' schedule forced him to include injured players in dramatic 3-3 draw

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger remonstrates with assistant referee during last night's game
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger remonstrates with assistant referee during last night's game

Ian Baker

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger felt he was forced to include injured players as his side battled back from 3-0 down to salvage a point at Bournemouth.

Olivier Giroud’s injury time header completed a comeback after the Cherries had enjoyed a three-goal advantage until the 70th minute.

Yet Wenger was still far from happy at having to play the game on the south coast just 48 hours after the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace, giving their opponents an extra day to prepare.

“It was a physical test and a mental test,” said Wenger. “Congratulations to them but, as well, it is too uneven to have only two days to play against a team who had over three days of rest.

“Hector Bellerin had a knock, was uncertain to play, that is the problem when you had 48 hours. We had three or four players who we had to wait on till the warm-up.

“Koscielny, Gabriel, I did not start Oxlade-Chamberlain as I could not take a gamble with him. It complicates the job a lot but we have to shut up and cope with it.

“Koscielny was tired and had cramps in both legs, that is why I took him off.

“I’m ready to play again tomorrow as long as I play against an opponent who played today as well.

“That is what I call fair. All the rest, we have to play when we are told to play. We want to play against a team with the same time of rest and preparation as us.”

Even opposite number Eddie Howe admitted his side had been handed an advantage.

“I’m not going to deny that will have had an impact on the game but that’s why you change the squad,” he said.

“You can imagine what the mood’s like and that is a real shame as they should be congratulated.”

Bournemouth produced a stunning performance in the first hour with Charlie Daniels, Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser efforts putting them on course for an unlikely three points. However Alexis Sanchez and Lucas Perez started the comeback with Giroud scoring with his head two days on from his spectacular effort against Palace.

“The scorpion goal was not [worth] two goals so I'm pleased to score the equaliser but I'm still disappointed,” he said. “The way we played at the end, even a man up, makes me think we should have done better. But at least we came back.”

Bournemouth had captain Simon Francis dismissed eight minutes from the end for a tackle on Aaron Ramsey.

“The sending off did not help, whether it was the defining factor I’m not sure,” added Howe. “I don’t think it was a sending off, Simon’s gone in committed, he’s not lifted his studs.”

Independent News Service

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