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Wenger concerned over fixture pile-up

Updated: 2013-12-06 07:54
( China Daily)

Arsene Wenger fears a 'heavy schedule' in December could put Premier League leader Arsenal at a disadvantage in its quest for success at home and abroad.

A 2-0 home win over Hull City on Wednesday, courtesy of goals from Nicklas Bendtner and Mesut Ozil, maintained the Gunners' four-point lead at the top of the table.

Arsenal is also close to qualification from the Champions League group stage, which will be completed with a decisive match at Napoli on Dec 11, either side of league fixtures at home to in-form Everton on Dec 8 and at fellow title rival Manchester City on Dec 14 in a lunchtime kickoff.

All three of these fixtures will be televised live, as will the next Premier League game on the calendar, a home game with Chelsea, its closest rival for the title, on Dec 23 and Wenger is ruing a lack of co-ordination between the different broadcasters, which has left his team with little time to recover between matches.

"We have a very heavy schedule, that's why I had to rest some players," Wenger said.

"Now we play Everton on Sunday and there is little distance (in time) between Everton and Naples.

"We play Wednesday night in Naples and Saturday morning against Man City so for us it is a very, very heavy schedule.

"It's not fair or unfair, there is just no co-ordination between the television choices. We could have played on Saturday against Everton and Sunday or Monday against Man City.

"It looks strange when you play on Saturday morning and our next game is Monday night against Chelsea 10 days later, especially when there is little time between the Champions League game on Wednesday night and the next game early on Saturday afternoon."

Everton helped Arsenal's cause by winning 1-0 at Man United on Wednesday, a result that left the reigning champion trailing the Gunners by 12 points.

But Wenger was reluctant to write off United.

"No, it's still early," he said. "It (the Everton result) is a surprising defeat, yes, but we have seen that before - overhauling 12 points on us.

"But, of course, we have only to keep winning to have a chance and not worry too much about the others."

- Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 12/06/2013 page24)