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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54 Comments on "Wenger blames fixture list for slow burning Gunners"

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Ex-Priest Tobin

More dissembling nonsense from ‘the prof’. Never going to win anything of note until he’s out the door.

Dan Hunter

Just bullshit excuse after bullshit excuse… can’t blame the squad or fixture list or referees or anything else. We need to take responsibility for being absolute shit. If the problem was physical, why did his tactics not reflect that? Why not sit back a bit and nullify Bournemouth? Could have even done that after the first goal…

It was pathetic until Alexis scored.

OG gunner

I don’t think you or other people realize why Wenger highlights the disadvantage with this fixture list. 2 days break for a professional footballer? Thats not enouh to recuperate. We even lost coquelin for maybe 3 weeks. Clearly, Bournemouth took advantage of this to the full. For me, this game was a legitimate draw because physically, we would struggle against any team. The loss against Everton, Liverpool, draws agains boro’ and Burnely however…

Dan Hunter

Most teams have the same issue – a congested fixture list. We all knew the fixtures at the start of the season. Man Utd played on Saturday and on Monday. They won both games. West Brom travelled from Southampton down south (whom they played on Saturday) all the way up to West Bromwich 150 miles away. They won both games with their world class squad. Liverpool have an excuse as they played out of their skins on Saturday to beat Man City, and just came up short against Sunderland with a draw.

We, on the other hand, had a stroll in the park against Crystal Palace, it was like a preseason training match.

As I said, bullshit excuses. If others can do it, why can’t we?

Dan Hunter

Why does Wenger never admit, hey, I hold my hands up – we were SHIT. Just say it!

OG gunner

Ok, so everyone agrees that the fixture list did handicap us, like Wenger said

Clearly, our performance last night was shite, but i’m standing on that it was a legitimate draw. I understand that anger is pointed on the poor results in this season so far, always coming short on the title race and Wengers stubborness, but if you were one of those hoping Arsenal would win the title this year than I feel sorry for you. I stopped hoping when the dutch skunk got sold, but I always backed Wengers philosophy and spirit in this game. Yes, there were frustration when he was reluctant in the transfer market, because most of our players in our squad lacks a strong and consistent mentality. They are all very talented and have the potential to beat any team! Yet when the flow goes down, added with some criticism from fans, media etc., most players just drop in form… It is true that football players nowadays have a tough life because of pressure from every corner, but if you chose to be a football player, you should acknowledge this and be mentaly strong.

I support Wenger because he never gives into criticism and stays focused on his philosophy, while he urges players to do the same. Do we fans actually help our team when we shout “WENGER OUT!” and that Giround is hero… than Zero?? We are making things worse having these attitudes. Fair criticism are dwarfed by irrational critiques like that. What happens when we get a new managers? Would we shout Allegri or Enrique OUT when they lose 3 games?

My point is, Arsenal can’t and won’t win titles this year (maybe FA cup) because we lack players with Sanchez’ mentality. This was the difference between Leicester finishing first and we, second, last year. It was not the players talent or the managers.

uncle D

Wow people have complained their selves to sleep! THE SEASON IS NOT OVER YET!!! COYG

spinner

You’re right, why are these silly people complaining? Miles behind the leaders and getting a draw against the mighty Bournemouth – nothing to complain about, it’s all going fantastic.

PeteyB

Have to say that i thought it was telling that the three teams that played Sunday Tuesday all struggled last night. Ultimately Watford and Palace lost. Could argue that we were more expected to win but I did think that Palace would have enough to beat Swansea. I know Southampton who had least recovery of all over Christmas lost all three of their games – again arguably they may have anyway.
Nevertheless I know from being involved in competitive sport in the past that often recovery day 2 is the one where legs feel heaviest. Yes Arsenal are a big club and warm downs and warm ups should compensate somewhat, particularly if you think it will take a bit more time to get up to speed, but that period day 2 to day 3 is probably where the biggest differential lies.

I’d be interested if somebody more statistically minded out there wanted to analyse the festive schedule and see how big an impact scheduling had on teams.

Dan Hunter

Man Utd won both games – they played Saturday/Monday. Even the mighty West Brom won both games playing Saturday and Monday, and they both had a long journey to travel. They had no excuses, they just knuckled down and did what they needed to do.

PeteyB

I’d say fair comment but a quick peek at fixtures shows that United opponents played they same days they did. Hull had an extra day before playing West Brom. Interestingly Hull started that game much the stronger as Baggies took a bit of time to get up to speed. From what I saw on MOTD they should’ve been further ahead at the break… but they’re Hull.

Dan Hunter

What’s your point? It wasn’t like our game against Crystal Palace was at full throttle. It was a walk in the park, a preseason type of game. Crystal Palace had zero threat. In addition, we have a big enough squad to deal with fixture congestion. We play full intensity on the training ground according to Wenger, so the match at home against Palace was like another training session which we have anyway. As I said, its just a bullshit excuse

ScotchEggsRules

Because you’re delighted with a desperate draw away to minnows Bournemouth, while the teams around us slowly pull away?

215Arse

I am so tired of this man and his whining. Blaming the schedule is ridiculous. Yes, it was unkind, but we got blitzed by Bournemouth and we made them look like Bayern Munich!!

Furthermore, the team was flat from the first minute to the 70th, then woke up. If his argument were true the team would be up for it untl the 70th minute and then fade. So his argument is inversely flawed.

This was another one of those matches where in the 10th minute you know we aren’t taking three points. The players aren’t moving for one another, passes aren’t connecting, and Wenger is slumped over in his long coat. Where is the fight? FFS! They give up three and finally realize they’re in a PL match.

Mentally they just aren’t in the right place and the bottom line is that it’s ok to not win under Arsene Wenger. The attitude, urgency, and effort in must win matches shows this. Year in, year out.

Title race is over and the race for 4th is on. Go ahead and criticize me as a terrible fan, but if you have supported this team for ten or more years, you know how this story ends. Wenger out.

Dan Hunter

He’s taken Arsenal as far as he can. Time to hand over the crown. I want Allegri or Simeone.

Emmanuel Eboue

Lucien Favre would be an excellent appointment.

Dom47

Tuchel is a man for me, seems like a next big thing.

Dan Hunter

Allegri and Simeone are proven

Mark

I wouldn’t criticize you as a terrible fan, but I have supported Arsenal for far, far longer than ten years, and I know that the story can end any way. If you want to talk of ten years, you can talk of longer – and if you want talk about losing to Swindon in the league cup final.

But the point is, this doesn’t get anywhere. You give a list of opinions without any larger scale reference to events beyond, and there is no explanation or justification in your piece to explain why it is “ok to not win under Arsene Wenger”. We have had spells of not winning under every manager whose Arsenal team I have watched. The difference is that Wenger has a higher win percentage than all of the permanent managers.

If you want to make your point you could do us the courtesy of giving a logical set of arguments with points that can be analysed and tested. As it is we know that Liverpool recently lost at Bournemouth, and their manager was one of the people who was supposedly going to be better than Mr Wenger at managing the club. That might be a point you could consider – although you would need one hell of a lot more serious analytical rigour in your consideration to make sense of it, than you have put in your commentary.

Incidentally if we made Bournemouth look like Bayern, what did Liverpool make them look like?
Seriously kids these days.

Winterburn 87

Fixtures was out before the season started not last month

Sina

Gold

Clock-End Mike

Rubbish. The fixture list as published before the season began had both Arsenal and Bournemouth playing on the 31st Dec then 2 January.
That was bad enough, but at least it was equal (though tougher on the away team who had to spend some of what little time was allowed between matches travelling). But the TV companies moved Arsenal’s game with Palace from 31 Dec to 1 Jan late afternoon (but not Bournemouth’s game with Swansea), and the game between the two teams to 3 January, giving Bournemouth, the home team, an extra day between games.
I don’t often find myself on the same side of the argument as Sam Allardyce, but read what he says about the fixture list, he’s even more vocal than Le Prof, and Palace’s game last night was at least a home game.

spinner

Tired of the excuses.
Bournemouth had 24 hours more rest than us, boo hoo! We are giants compared to them. We spent money more on players in the summer transfer window than they have in their entire history. Bournemouth were 3 divisions below us 8 years ago. They are a tiny club compared to us and Wenger is complaining about them have 24 hours more rest. Forget it man, your time is up.

Clock-End Mike

There are excuses, and there are understandable reasons. I say this is the latter.
Bournemouth players, Arsenal players, they’re all humans. We may be a bigger club (hardly “giants”), but our players are no more supermen than theirs, just maybe more skillful.
So angry that people (“fans”?) are taking it out on the manager.
Read @leroy below.

Dan Hunter

What constitutes a ‘fan’? Supporting Wenger? What about supporting the owners? Are you not a fan of you don’t support them? If not,why not? I’m sick of this argument that somehow having the opinion that Wenger should go means you don’t love Arsenal football club. You can support the club and still have an opinion about the manager.

leroy

the headline is a bit over dramatic. he didn’t “blame” the fixture list. he made one comment about the amount of rest between the games for both teams. he also made complimentary comments towards bournemouth and pointed out how we struggled. feels like you’re trying to add fuel to a (slow burning) fire.

Jonas

The managers get asked their view on the match outcome. He was gracious to the opposition, and rightly points out he guys are worn down. That the fixtures list was made a year ago doesn’t AT ALL change the fact that they played 2 in 48hrs. And that influenced the outcome. And that’s what he said. Making it more than that is silly.

215Arse

They were flat from the start. It’s not like they were tiring as the game wore on. Exaclty the opposite happened.

Dan Hunter

Exactly. If there was tiredness, surely they would have been strong in the first half and weaker and more weary in the second?

Possession

Playing Ramsey on the right side of midfield is insane as he hates playing there and is disinterested from the start. Either play him centrally as one of the two defensive midfielders or as a 10..otherwise sell him and use the money elsewhere.

Kay Em

Ramsey was not playing on the right; Iwobi was. Ramsey was playing behind Giroud in the Ozil role. It appears you didn’t see this and that says it all about his performance.

I AM ARSENAL

Mustafi and Ramsey were two of the poorest though and they didn’t start the prior game. You cant blame fatigue when we visibly finished stronger than them.

Rashwho

Bellerin? 2 goals he was out of position and the one he wasnt he was out muscled.

goonero

Belerin could have done better for the first but it was mostly down to midfield chaos. It looked for the most of that first half like Ramsey, Coq, and Iwobi had no idea where the other was playing and what their responsibilities were. Bournemouth could run straight through the midfield with barely a challenge and men were unmarked all over the pitch. That to me is simply poor management and preparation and it’s not

Toni

I think it is time to bring in Holding. He can slot in at central defense or in the defensive midfield role.

George

Bollocks. I don’t want to hear it. Rotate the team more effectively (why take off Elneny and put on Coquelin vs Palace??!) or change the record. We ‘finished’ stronger than we started, so, yeah, don’t want to hear it.

Rashwho

“They started faster?” We started on 70th Sherlock. who wouldnt beat that!

uncle D

Some times I think some of you here want to be like fans from other clubs that bought trophies?! Arsenal are doing great and have not sold out just like Wenger! Arsenal have class and character, also improving at a consistent basis! So please go support the clubs that do what you like and stop making it difficult to enjoy this club. You are distracting the whole club in case you don’t know, so much talking complete office rubbish! 99% of you who complain can’t do the job or take the heat! Have a heart…

Olar

Master of excuses..

MrBrain + Ozil's vision
MrBrain + Ozil's vision

In this league, anything is possible. Any team can win the league just like leicester did last season. On their day, any team can beat ANY team.

I perfectly understood what Wenger’s point is. It’s absurd to compare a team who has had 3 and half day rest playing at home to a team with just 2 days rest playing away. The advantage is overwhelming to say the least.

The fact is, Arsenal refused to loose the match and that explains why we dug up extra resources in making sure we drew it at the end.

The team should be commended instead of castigated. It’s an unforgiving league, a favour to any team is always a plus, and which they have duely taken advantage of.

Shame on the FA!

Alexis The Beast Of London
Alexis The Beast Of London

Classic arsenal, dropping points at an important time. Might still be early to say this but I think we are playing for second place. Anyway lets hope chealse draw.

Martin

We were poor from the get go last night, we have been for several games now. And as for the fixture list being released a year ago that’s nonsense as until the previous seasons finished we have no idea which 3 are down and which 3 are up! The fixtures are moved for tv purposes at this time of year, we know it every year and should have the fitness levels to cope and the players to cope with absenses. The fault lies with wenger and his medical coaches who are the only consistent thing every season; consistently poor and not up to the job!

Derek.

This was a case of us not giving them respect and dropping our game and them giving us respect and upping theirs making the differential fall in their favour. We woke up far too late and were lucky to get a draw. We must face every game like we’re playing our biggest rivals otherwise it’ll be same old same old.

GraeGooner

Having been lucky enough to get a ticket for last night, it just felt from the off that the players had been pre-programmed by AW to believe they were tired and heads were down until we scored. Howe was up on the line and directing his players, AW just sat there until he found a reason to argue with the 4th official.

Of he players who didn’t start Sunday, Coq was the one who picked up the hammy, Mustafi the one who was slow and didn’t seem to be able to pass to a yellow shirt, Ramsey the one who spent more energy arguing with Alexis. It was when we had to bring on Ox, push Ramsey deeper and Iwobi to the middle that things picked up (although Iwobi could not replicate Palace form as Bournemouth didn’t let him have time on the ball). Then bringing Lucas on really gave us a player who wanted to be in the box and shoot.

We actually had Mustafi playing forward late on until Xhaka picked up his inevitable yellow card and we realised that he was likely to get sent off if left there.

Every team realises that, if they play the ball into the area behind our full backs, they can cause problems, usually with a cross but here and more often by a player who attacks the box. Usually it’s Monreal who has the problems but last night Bellerin had probably his worst game for us, trying to use his weight (?) instead of his speed to hold off players.

Bournemouth could easily have had more goals and the AFC fans were rightly singing “This is embarrassing!” – we escaped with a point and maybe now the team will realise its strength is pressing the opposition and shooting on sight to make things happen.

Keep the faith, it need not be over yet.

Des

Theres a guarantee that if my dyson hoover packs up I get a new one or have it fixed. Theres also a guarantee that one day we will die and leave this earth. Theres also a guarantee the wenger will never win the league title again.

Clock-End Mike

I don’t think you understand the word “guarantee”.
The first is a promise. The second is a fact. The third is an opinion.

Clock-End Mike

That was meant as a reply to “Des” above.
(Blogs, I’ve norticed before that replying to the last message often doesn’t post as a reply to that message but as a new reply to the blog.)

Wozfe

The third is a belief*.

Alexstratz

Wonga, please stahp…

Rod Sim

No more excuse please. Playing ramsey first is 200%wrong. He is not match fit, lazy tracking back, cannot keep possession, not eager to win and not aggressive enough. It is ok to draw / lost, but not in this way. Some of our players are really not good enough, I know we can’t keep buying players. But playing seriously is a must. One more thing, ask ramsey to learn from santi on how to become a good midfielder and dribbler. Really bad as supporting arsenal in hk for almost 40 years

Jon

Wenger football is based on playing on the opposition’s half. Defensively, it’s been shaky for years. Our defenders don’t match the speed of the attackers they meet. To compensate for that, you need good defensive systems and intelligent collective action. Too often, you don’t seem to get that, and there is a feeling defensive planning and training is inadequate.

Praveen

If you look at statistics we lost 2 vital points.
If you look at the match we won 1 point.
This was a game where Bournemouth was always in control. Better than us in pace ,in position and in commitment.
How we managed to draw this match is unbelievable and outstanding.
Players are not robots but human beings.
Mistakes are made and will continue to be made even by the greatest.
Bulletin made a mistake in the first goal. He was fouled or outmuscled for the third is immaterial. But what was important was even though he had a poor match by his young standards he ran faster and was having the ball . If the referee thought Fraser did not foul belletin then he should never awarded the penalty against Xhaka.
What I saw today was a dismantled Arsenal team dominated and on the verge of an away defeat who in the last 20 Minutes mentally and physically changed it all to a draw.
To me this was an impossible task to perform but was achieved . We should never forget what Liverpool endured against Bournemouth.
Winning or losing the leave is 18 matches away.
Right now I am proud of what MY team achieved in the last 20 Minutes against a very good opponent.
Thank you Arsenal. Thank you Arsène.
Let’s look ahead for more and more wins now.
All the best MY team. Best of luck to all of us the goners.

Mootilated

Weren’t we like 11 points clear of Manchester United at one point? Yawn.

ricardo

Change the record Wenger. Every year you trot out that line and every year the xmas/new-year fixture schedule remains the same. Sick of hearing the same old carping about the same old bollocks.

Nothing will change. Get used to it.

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