While Arsene Wenger doesn’t have any complaints about the congested Premier League fixture list, he does think that steps need to be taken to make it fairer and more respectful to the competition.
Wenger isn’t happy about West Ham getting more rest between games than Arsenal and believes the Premier League needs to make sure each team playing each other has the same amount of days off between fixtures.
“I have nothing against the fact that we have to do that, as long as our opponents have the same recovery days,” Wenger said. “That was not the case last week, and it will not be the case next week again. Because between three days and four days, it’s 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 think there is a job to do there [for the Premier League] to respect the fairness of the competition. And if you look at it, I believe that many teams don’t fight on an equal front on the recovery side.”
The boss continued, “What I would like is that teams who have a tight schedule are faced with the same problems. I can understand that we have to play all the games, you just want to play against teams who have the same problem as you.”
The Hammers face Arsenal on Wednesday after their run-in with Chelsea early on Saturday. Therefore, they get three full days of rest in between compared to the Gunners, who travel to Southampton on Sunday afternoon and only get two.
Similarly, last week, Arsenal played Huddersfield on Wednesday before their clash with Manchester United on Saturday. The Red Devils hadn’t played since Tuesday.
I do understand where Wenger’s coming from. When you’re playing twice a week, especially in cold conditions, every day’s rest is crucial. Not just when it comes to the outcome of games but the fitness of players as well.
However, it’s also a pretty big ask from the Premier League. While I realise that there are probably some steps they can take, most of the scheduling is down to TV broadcasters. Whether we like it or not, the likes of Sky and BT Sport dictate when some games are played and, for the most part, the teams facing each other do have roughly the same amount of rest. It just so happens that, in Arsenal’s case, this hasn’t happened this time.