Emery not critical of Premier League over Arsenal’s congested fixtures


Unai Emery has refused to criticise the Premier League for making his Arsenal side play three times in a week – even if he admits his stars will be unable to cope.

The Gunners host Leicester on Monday night, less than three days before they kick off their Europa League Group E clash against Sporting Lisbon in Portugal.

Sporting face a Taca de Portugal clash with minnows Loures on Saturday night before they welcome Emery’s side to the Estadio Jose Alvalade.

Emile Smith-Rowe
Arsenal won their opening Europa League group game against Vorskla (Nick Potts/PA)

After returning from Lisbon, Emery will take his side to Crystal Palace the following Sunday – but the Arsenal head coach believes it is the prerogative of the rights holders to determine when his team play.

“We are first in one competition (the Premier League) and the TV is very important,” he said.

“The TV has the target to choose the matches Friday, Sunday, Monday. If they decided we are going to play Monday we don’t stop to think if it is better to play Monday or not.

Matteo Guendouzi
Unai Emery’s rotation of players could mean more game time for the likes of Matteo Guendouzi (Nick Potts/PA)

“After, we are going to play Thursday, we are going to play Sunday also, two matches very quickly after Leicester. For me it’s not an excuse because we are preparing for Monday.”

Arsenal are currently enjoying a nine-match winning run across the Europa League, Premier League and Carabao Cup.

With such form comes more fixtures, something Emery welcomes even if he knows he will have to rotate his side as a result.

Danny Welbeck,  left, Yoann Barbet
Arsenal’s form in competitions like the Carabao Cup has added to their crowded schedule (Nick Potts/PA)

“Every player, they need to feel they can play every match. (With) only three days difference between one match and another, you can’t do that.

“You can’t do that with play and rest, play and we can’t do that without changing players. But if I decide to play with the same players Monday, Thursday, Sunday, the players can’t do that.

“The mentality is to think like this then play, rest, prepare rest with other players to find our performance each match with these players.

“We want to play a lot of matches. We want to continue doing our way with different possibilities tactically and with the players – but with a lot of matches, we can’t do that.”


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