Arsene Wenger has hit out at the Premier League after Arsenal played two games in under 50 hours. The second, the 3-3 draw, was played against an AFC Bournemouth side which had an additional rest day and the Frenchman is far from pleased (via Arsenal.com).
The festive period is usually jam-packed with football with every side in England taking to the field twice a week. Football fans are used to matches on Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and usually one in between, but this year was rather different, for the Gunners especially.
Arsenal played on 26 December and 1 January but rather than playing a match in between those dates, the tie with AFC Bournemouth was held on 3 January, just over 48 hours after the match against Crystal Palace. Sky Sports showed a Premier League match every day over the Christmas period and as enjoyable as it has been for fans, clubs are feeling the impact.
Chelsea undoubtedly had the kindest fixtures over the period, with two home games and one short away trip across London evenly spread over 12 days. Meanwhile, clubs like Southampton were forced to play three matches in six days. Arsenal’s match against Bournemouth was their second in 50 hours and Arsene Wenger was not happy about it.
“Look, I am ready to play tomorrow again as long as we play against an opponent who has played today as well,” Wenger said after the match. “That is what I call fair.
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“All the rest, we have to play when we are told to play but we want to play against a team with the same time of rest and preparation that we have.”
AFC Bournemouth were given an additional day of rest after playing on New Year’s Eve instead of 1 January. “It’s too uneven to have only two days to play against a team with over three days rest,” Wenger went on. “It took us a while to get back into the game.
“It was a physical test and a mental test for us. A physical test because we had problems to start to cope with the pace of Bournemouth.
“It was a mental test, but we succeeded because we have a great resilience in the team and great mental strength and that came out. In the end, you are even frustrated not to win the game.”
It was enjoyable to see Arsenal come back into the match but the Gunners should not have been anywhere near that position. Generally, the teams with more rest days have performed far better during this festive period. It’s an organisational failure from both the Premier League and Sky Sports and the clubs are suffering for it.