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Wenger wants Premier League prioritised in English fixture scramble

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger wants Premier League matches to take priority to ease English football’s frantic winter schedule.

At present, league fixtures are only slotted into the calendar after national team games, European matches and each round of the domestic cup competitions.

This month’s schedule sees a full round of midweek Premier League games taking place between rounds three and four of the FA Cup and the two-legged League Cup semi-finals.

The congestion has prompted criticism from Sunderland’s Sam Allardyce – a long-established top-flight manager in the country – and Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, during the German’s first experience of an English winter.

But before examining the possibility of cutting matches or introducing a mid-season break, Wenger – enjoying his 19th season at Arsenal – wants the current arrangements to be tweaked.

“Before you shrink the calendar, you can make it less chaotic by saying maybe that priority is to the Premier League on fixtures,” he said.

“When you start to cancel Premier League game as you have a replay of the FA Cup, why not play the replay on a different date in midweek and keep the Premier League?

“As sometimes you finish the season and this team has two games less as they played in a replay of the cup and you have a lot of problems to reschedule the games.

“If you at least fix and keep the Premier League games and don’t change them, and adapt the FA Cup to the dates in midweek, that would be a step forward.”

Wenger, whose team take on Klopp and Liverpool on Wednesday, does not believe the lack of a mid-season break in England necessarily hinders the Premier League’s top teams in their pursuit of success in Europe.

“If you look at the history of English football, it was already a frenetic football,” he added. “But it did not stop the English clubs from winning European Cups in the past.

“When I spoke to [former Arsenal player] Pat Rice, who used to be my assistant, about it, at one time they played every day. He once played in a replay in the FA Cup four times!”

Tue 12 Jan, 2016
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