Saturday, May 27, 2017

Wenger hits out at fixture schedule despite incredible Arsenal comeback

SoccerNews in English Premier League 3 Jan 2017

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Arsene Wenger again questioned the Premier League schedule for this season after Arsenal’s dramatic 3-3 draw with Bournemouth on Tuesday.

Goals from Alexis Sanchez, Lucas Perez and Olivier Giroud – the latter in the 92nd minute – saw the Gunners come from 3-0 down to snatch a point in the final 20 minutes at the Vitality Stadium.

The result ended a run of back-to-back league losses away from home but means Chelsea could move 11 points clear of Arsenal with a win over Tottenham on Wednesday, while a Spurs victory would see them leapfrog their north London rivals and move into the top four.

And Wenger, who voiced his displeasure with the fixture list prior to the match, criticised the decision to give his side one day’s less rest than Eddie Howe’s team.

“It was very difficult to start the game. They started quicker, faster,” he told Sky Sports.

“Bournemouth deserve a lot of credit but the disadvantage is too big to play against a team with three and a half days recovery. We played on Sunday – that’s too big a handicap.

“I think they are a good team, they have quality, they look dangerous and committed. That’s why the game was difficult.

“We had some players at half-time who had problems. I changed it early in the second half and I believe we refused to lose the game, basically.  There’s a great resilience in the team and we saw that.”

Wenger accepted that Arsenal must look on the result as two points lost despite the spirited and clinical nature of their second-half performance, with the draw another dent in their title aspirations.

He suggested, however, that his side were not given the benefit of the doubt regarding certain decisions, though it was Bournemouth who played the final eight minutes plus injury time with 10 men after Simon Francis was sent off for a challenge on Aaron Ramsey.

“In terms of our ambitions, we dropped two points. We have to do better in the other games and hope other teams will drop points when they come here,” he said.

“It was not a result we wished for before the game but at 3-0 down we would have signed for it. We dropped two points but against a good side who had a very dynamic game.

“I think, as well, we were not very lucky with some decisions.”

Speaking to the BBC, he clarified that he was frustrated with the decision to award a penalty to Bournemouth for a push by Granit Xhaka and not to punish Ryan Fraser for a similar offence in the build-up to the hosts’ third goal.

“It is no penalty, or if it is then it’s a foul [on Hector Bellerin],” he said. “The push from Xhaka was much less strong than the push for the goal.”

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