Wenger blames fixture list for slow burning Gunners

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Arsene Wenger says Arsenal were left at a disadvantage by the fixture schedule as they struggled to get to grips with Bournemouth before recovering from 3-0 down to snatch an unlikely 3-3 draw at the Vitality Stadium.

The Gunners, who had only 48 hours to recuperate from their New Year’s Day win over Crystal Palace, looked shaky for the first hour against Eddie Howe’s energetic Cherries before Alexis Sanchez, substitute Lucas Perez and man of the moment Olivier Giroud scored in the final 20 minutes

Clearly irked by the roller coaster ride his side had inflicted on him, Wenger drew attention to the advantage the home side had with the timing of their festive fixtures.

“It was a physical test,” he told Sky Sports. “We had some problems getting out of the blocks. It was very difficult for us to start the game.

“They started much quicker and faster. After that, with 20 minutes to go, we were 3-0 down so it was as well a mental test.

“I think we refused to lose the game, gave absolutely everything. Apart from the first 20 minutes, I think we were always in the game. We were dangerous on counterattacks because we had to throw everything in there. In the end, it’s a draw.

“Bournemouth deserves a lot of credit but I think the disadvantage is too big [for us] to play a team who has over three and a half days recovery. We played on Sunday late afternoon; it’s too big a handicap at the start.

“I think as well, they are a good side, they are a good team, they have quality and played at a tremendous pace and made many runs behind our defenders. They looked always dangerous and committed, that’s why the game was difficult.”

On his side showing determination to steal a late point when the game appeared to slip from their grasp, Wenger added:

“We had some players at half time who had [fitness] problems. I changed it very early in the second half. Overall, I believe that we refused to lose the game.

“There’s a great resilience in the team and we have seen that again today.”

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