Wednesday 17 January 2018

Wenger laments TV influence on games

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Photo: John Sibley/Reuters
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Photo: John Sibley/Reuters

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Arsene Wenger will have to make changes when he takes his Arsenal team to Bournemouth tonight, but he is not happy about the "uneven" fixture list forcing his hand.

The game at Dean Court kicks off roughly 50 hours after the final whistle blew at the Emirates on Sunday night, meaning that Arsenal will have to rest and rotate for the game.

Arsenal are not the only team to have just one empty day between games, but the whole Premier League has noticed that Chelsea, with gaps of four days and three days between games, have a gentler schedule than the chasing pack. Wenger did not name Chelsea, but he did say how unfair he thinks the calendar is.

"In 20 years it is the most uneven Christmas period I've seen," said Wenger. "The difference in rest period is unbelievable in terms of all the teams. I don't really know if the Premier League masters the fixtures.

"It's more that we have sold the rights to TV for a lot of money. So we have to accept TV chooses the games. But some teams have more luck than others."

Wenger said that this loss of control was inevitable, and that Arsenal were one of the unlucky sides this time.

"We are privileged in our job," Wenger said. "We get a lot of money to play football. Sometimes it goes for you and sometimes against you."

After dispiriting defeats at Everton and Manchester City, Arsenal have turned their form around with two solid home wins against West Brom and Crystal Palace. The Gunners are not playing their best, though, and Wenger said they would have to keep grinding out results.

"Chelsea are winning every single game, they are comfortable in front," Wenger said. "We have to hang on, try to win and hope that results turn in our favour. We had an exceptional run, and we lost two games. I hope it's out of our system. But every game is so difficult.

"In 48 hours we go into a game with a big handicap on the fixture and I have to find fresh legs."

Those fresh legs are likely to belong to Shkodran Musafi, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey, who can all expect to come in. Wenger hopes that Mesut Ozil has shaken off illness to play.

Alex Iwobi played in Ozil's No 10 role on Sunday and revelled playing in the role that he has always been most comfortable in.

"It is where I have grown up playing and where I enjoy playing the most," he said. "But wherever I am put on the pitch, I will do my best."

Bournemouth v Arsenal,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 7.45

Irish Independent

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