Arsene Wenger has blasted Arsenal’s festive fixture schedule and believes the increase in television revenue is dictating when games are played.
The Gunners travel to Bournemouth on Tuesday night, just a little over 48 hours after Olivier Giroud’s superb ‘scorpion kick’ goal helped seal a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace that moved them up to third in the Premier League table.
Many other top-flight clubs face the same conundrum, with Palace themselves hosting fellow strugglers Swansea after Monday’s fixtures saw plenty of sides play having last turned out on Saturday.
But leaders Chelsea are not in action until Wednesday night after extending their winning run to 13 matches with victory over Stoke on Saturday.
And Wenger is not happy with what he believes is unfair scheduling that works against his side.
“Every game is so difficult in this Premier League that we go now into a game in 48 hours’ time with a big handicap on the fixtures,” he said.
“I have to try and find some fresh legs, so let’s just focus on Bournemouth and try to get a good result there.
“In 20 years it is the most uneven Christmas period I have seen on the fixture front. The difference of rest periods is absolutely unbelievable, compared to the other teams it is unbelievable.”
The Frenchman pointed the finger at the new overseas television deal which has seen the Premier League bring in billions of pounds in extra revenue, believing the stations may now call the shots.
“Really I don’t know any more whether the Premier League is the master of the fixtures,” he added.
“I think it is more that we have sold the television rights for a lot of money so we have to accept that television chooses the games.
“But I must say on that front that some teams have a bit more luck than others… the teams with the best rest periods between games.
“You know that as well as I know. It is better for you if I say it, I don’t mind saying it because you calculated that.
“We have to build a run and we go to a very difficult place, Bournemouth are a difficult team to play.
“The good news is Jack Wilshere will not play, but they are still a good enough team to give anyone problems.”
Wilshere must sit out the game as he is on loan with the Cherries from Arsenal and is ineligible to play against his parent club.
The England midfielder is enjoying an injury-free season on the south coast and Wenger said last year he will discuss a new deal with Wilshere at some time this month.
However, contrary to some reports, he insists he has only been talking to the player about more immediate issues.
Asked if there was a fresh deal on the table for Wilshere, Wenger said: “No. It was his birthday today (Sunday), he’s 25. I sent him a message.”