Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta questioned why his side were given the Saturday afternoon kick-off time after Wednesday’s battle against Manchester City.
It will be just 63 hours between matches when Arsenal take on Aston Villa away from home, which has been outlawed when the mid-week meeting is of the Champions League variety, but there are no restrictions for domestic games.
Arsenal, with a game in-hand, need a win to reclaim top spot on the table, but they will be playing a Villa side benefitting from an extra three days of rest.
Speaking to the media, Arteta said it does not make sense to have one rule for the Champions League but to disregard the same logic for other schedule congestion.
“There are certain rules with the Champions League,” he said. “When you are playing on Wednesday night and then you cannot play [Saturday lunchtime], so that should apply to any competition.
“If think you are talking physiologically, it is very difficult to turn around in that period to get the best outcome and reduce the injury risk for players.
“They put the schedule the way they did. It’s a bit unusual, but it’s not about being worried or not worried. We have to play. I want the players to be in the best possible mindset and physically ready to get that challenge going.”
While he acknowledges it is not an ideal situation, Arteta said it is no excuse for a poor performance.
“We knew we were going to play at that time,” he said. “The players are young – they have a lot of energy.”
Frustrating result today, but thank you for your continued support! #COYG @Arsenal pic.twitter.com/A82FluYi4B
— Eddie Nketiah (@EddieNketiah9) February 11, 2023
One of those young players Arsenal are relying on is 23-year-old Eddie Nketiah, who has now gone four games without a goal after a run of six goals in six matches.
“The most difficult thing is to score goals, but Eddie produced a penalty that could have been a goal,” he said. “He could have scored a hat-trick and then we’re talking about something else.
“Unfortunately he didn’t, and so we have these debates. But we have full confidence in these kids.”
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