Arsene Wenger is happy with Arsenal’s hectic fixture schedule and hopes too much time to think in between games could be the downfall of leaders Leicester.
The table-topping Foxes travel to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday five points clear at the Premier League summit – with the Gunners third, below fierce local rivals Tottenham.
With no continental tournaments to worry about and having already been knocked out of the Capital One Cup and the FA Cup, many believe a less congested run-in could see Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester complete a most remarkable title success.
But Wenger, whose side remain in the FA Cup – looking to win it for a third straight year – and have a Champions League last-16 clash with Barcelona on the horizon, believes too much time thinking about upcoming fixtures could be detrimental to a team.
“Yes, time to think can be a disadvantage if you not are thinking in a positive way and the pressure is on,” he said. “It is true that sometimes the less time you have to wait for the next game, the better it is.
“I believe they are still in a position where they think where they have nothing to lose. But once you are top of the league, you can also think about losing what you have.
“That is where the nerves come in a little bit. I do not know how they will respond to that.”
Some Leicester fans are planning to miss the first five minutes of Sunday’s noon kick-off in north London in protest to the late decision to switch the date of the match for television purposes.
Arsenal supporters group REDaction has called on home fans to applaud Leicester’s efforts, but Wenger is keen to keep any protests away from the match itself.
“You want everybody there when the game starts,” the Arsenal boss said when asked if he would be disappointed if fans came in late.
“For me, the game is a joy and everyone has to be part of it. You can protest before and after, but during the game, you want everybody to be there.
“It (a game of football) is a moment of happiness in your life. Life is not every day fantastic – sometimes it’s boring, sometimes it’s difficult for many people. Football is a moment of happiness in your life, so don’t miss it.”
Wenger: Neutrals all behind Foxes
Leicester lost 5-2 when Arsenal visited the King Power Stadium in September but, if they follow up on recent victories over Liverpool and Manchester City with success in north London, they could be on course to record one of the most surprising feats in the history of the game.
And, with the game being played on Valentine’s Day, Wenger admits there is a hint of romanticism to the Foxes’ surge up the table after being rock bottom on their last visit to Arsenal.
“Of course it is very romantic and I understand the whole country being behind them,” he added.
“That is human. I think as well that it is good for football, and it goes against a little but the usual practice in our game, which is spend, buy big stars.
“It is important to know that with quality work, quality scouting and quality management you can have great results.
“I never had the feeling that it was a bottom of the league team as they already had the strength that came out this season because they had two or three players that have given them more quality. They started well so their confidence levels are much higher.”