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Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, has criticised those responsible for fixture scheduling as he prepares his team for their encounter with Aston Villa tomorrow lunchtime. It comes after the Gunners faced Manchester City on Wednesday night meaning recovery and preparation time has been minimal for the Spaniard and his squad.
Arsenal are currently in the midst of a close title race with Manchester City that took another twist on Wednesday night when the Citizens ran out 3-1 winners at the Emirates Stadium. The result has left Arsenal in second place in the Premier League table on goal difference, although they do still have a game in hand on City.
Arteta, therefore, understands the importance of each and every game and perhaps feels as if the scheduling has put his club at a disadvantage this weekend with City not kicking off until 3 pm on Saturday.
The Arsenal boss has been quick to point out that the Premier League protect Champions League clubs from the Saturday lunchtime slot when they play on a Wednesday night so wants to know why they don’t employ the same rules when a team plays on a Wednesday night in league action. Speaking to reports before the match at Villa Park, he said:
“There are certain rules with the Champions League. When you are playing on Wednesday night and then you cannot play on Saturday lunchtime. So I think that should apply to any competition.
Following the same principle, I think you are talking physiologically, that is very difficult to turn around on that period to get the best outcome and reduce the injury risk for players. They put the schedule the way they did. It’s a bit unusual, but it’s what it is.
It’s not about being worried or not worried, we have to play. I want the players to be in the best possible mindset and physically ready to get that challenge going.”
🗣️ “They put the schedule the way they did which is a bit unusual but it is what it is.”
Mikel Arteta says he isn’t pleased with the Premier League’s scheduling of playing Wednesday evening and Saturday lunchtime. 😤 pic.twitter.com/UWO4etQcYn
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) February 17, 2023
Although Arteta may have a point about the conflicting rules when it comes to Champions League clubs, his side did also benefit from controversial Premier League scheduling as recently as last month.
Manchester United were handed a last-minute re-arranged fixture with Crystal Palace four days before they faced Arsenal last month and star man, Casemiro, ended up picking up a booking that meant he was suspended for the game at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal ended up winning the game with United looking tired in the second half.
A must-win game for Arsenal
Although a loss wouldn’t exactly leave Arsenal out of the running for the title, it feels imperative that they bounce back from Wednesday’s defeat with a victory to get themselves back on track. Prior to the loss against Manchester City, they lost away at Everton and drew at home to Brentford prompting many to suggest that they were beginning to feel the heat of the title race.
The Gunners could welcome back Thomas Partey to the starting eleven after the midfielder missed the game against Manchester City with an injury. Arteta has said that the Ghanian will have to pass a late fitness test if he is to be included.
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