Sunday 18 March 2018

Ronald Koeman blasts Southampton's 'impossible' Christmas schedule

Ronald Koeman has hit out at Southampton's packed festive Premier League fixture run
Ronald Koeman has hit out at Southampton's packed festive Premier League fixture run

Ronald Koeman has blasted Southampton's Christmas schedule, insisting it is "impossible" to field the same starting line-up with two Premier League matches inside 48 hours.

Saints host Arsenal in Boxing Day's late kick-off, before making the trip to West Ham on Monday, less than two full days later.

St Mary's boss Koeman recalls making four changes between last term's 2-0 win at Crystal Palace on Boxing Day and a 1-1 home draw with Chelsea just two days on.

This year the former Netherlands defender insists he will be forced into an even greater re-jig of his resources between facing Arsenal and West Ham.

"Yes, it's too much," said Koeman, when asked if Saints' schedule puts unfair demands on his squad.

"It's too much and we have to travel (to West Ham). The rest between the two matches should be at least 48 hours.

"In our case it's not 48 hours because we play at 7.45pm on Boxing Day and then on Monday at 5.30pm.

"We have 45, a little bit less, as we have to travel.

"Of course it's London and it's close, but still we have to travel.

"Impossible. But okay, we accept it and we play."

Southampton head into the Boxing Day battle with Arsenal desperate to arrest a six-game slump without victory.

Koeman believes he must rotate his squad for the quick-fire festive contests or risk exposing his players to potential injuries.

"Yes, yes: you can't play with the same 11, it's impossible," said Koeman, when asked if the tight turnaround could increase the injury risk.

"I was watching back to last year and we made four changes between Boxing Day against Crystal Palace and the Chelsea game.

"I remember some of the players were gone after 50, 60 minutes.

"I will make more changes to the team this time."

Press Association

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