English Premiership

Wenger: Arsenal can handle trophy quest

2016-01-10 10:00
Arsene Wenger (AFP)

London - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he is not concerned that a hectic period of fixtures could derail his team's bid for glory on multiple fronts this season. 

The Frenchman rested a number of players, including Mesut Ozil, for Saturday's FA Cup third-round tie with Sunderland, which Arsenal won 3-1 courtesy of goals from Joel Campbell, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud.

Alexis Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky are all currently sidelined, but Wenger is confident that his squad has sufficient depth to cope.

"There is a little bit of concern," said Wenger, whose side are bidding to win the FA Cup for the third season in succession.

"But I believe that the next step is to get Rosicky back, Welbeck back, Sanchez back, Wilshere back and maybe we will get one player in (during the January transfer window).

"Overall, we have no new injuries so I'm not worried. If we had the same number of injuries, we would be a bit short."

Arsenal, Premier League leaders, visit Liverpool on Wednesday, but Wenger resisted the temptation to rest all his first-choice picks, as Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp did in his side's 2-2 draw at Exeter City on Friday.

But teenage midfielder Alex Iwobi was handed a rare start and the Nigerian made the most of the opportunity.

"I liked the timing of his passes," Wenger said.

"In the middle of the park that is a vital quality, and the fact he plays forward and sees things. As a young boy he is not afraid to take people on and that is not easy."

Sam Allardyce, the Sunderland manager, made seven changes compared with Wenger's five and once again voiced his anger that his side must play three away games in the space of a week.

They take on fellow strugglers Swansea City on Wednesday in a game that was moved from Tuesday at the request of the Welsh club, who have a Sunday lunchtime FA Cup date with Oxford United.

"I will be very interested in seeing Swansea's team tomorrow (Sunday) and see how many first-team players they actually play," said Allardyce, who saw Jeremain Lens open the scoring at the Emirates Stadium.

"We could have played on Tuesday, which gave us the right opportunity to recover to play in the Premier League on Saturday, which is a 12.45pm kick-off against Tottenham, having travelled 1,800 miles for three away games."

Allardyce also hit back at the Premier League's claims that this week's mid-week fixtures could not have been played at another point in the season.

"So how do all of Europe get away with it then?" he asked. "How do all of Europe have a break for Christmas and we can't?

"The very least for the full recovery of a player is a minimum of four days at our level of football today. It promotes more and more injuries and more and more criticism, because people say they aren't performing as well as they should do.

"Well, they can't do because they are running on empty. You are not getting the entertainment level you want because the players are physically and mentally drained.

"'They get that much money, it shouldn't bother them,' you all say, but that's rubbish. The players take the dosh, but at the end of the day we have to follow Europe in everything we do, don't we?

"We have to follow the transfer system. We had our own system years ago and were told we can't do that. We have been made to scrap the emergency loan system next year, even though nobody wants to do that in this country and it will be very harmful. So why aren't we made to have a break, if we follow Europe all the time?"

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27 August 2016
Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool, White Hart Lane 13:30
Everton v Stoke City, Goodison Park 16:00
Leicester City v Swansea City, King Power Stadium 16:00
Crystal Palace v Bournemouth, Selhurst Park 16:00
Southampton v Sunderland, St. Mary's Stadium 16:00
Chelsea v Burnley, Stamford Bridge 16:00
Watford v Arsenal, Vicarage Road 16:00
Hull City v Manchester United, The KC Stadium 18:30
28 August 2016
West Bromwich Albion v Middlesbrough, The Hawthorns 14:30
Manchester City v West Ham United, Etihad Stadium 17:00
10 September 2016
Manchester United v Manchester City, Old Trafford 13:30
Stoke City v Tottenham Hotspur, Britannia Stadium 16:00
Arsenal v Southampton, Emirates Stadium 16:00
West Ham United v Watford, Olympic Stadium 16:00
Middlesbrough v Crystal Palace, Riverside Stadium 16:00
Burnley v Hull City, Turf Moor 16:00
Bournemouth v West Bromwich Albion, Vitality Stadium 16:00
Liverpool v Leicester City, Anfield 18:30
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