Wenger: Fixture schedule ‘cruel’ as Gunners head to Belarus


As Arsenal get ready to make the 3000 mile round trip from London to Belarus, Arsene Wenger has described the fixture pile up this week as ‘cruel’.

The Gunners beat West Brom 2-0 on Monday night, a game that finished at 9.45pm, before the 6pm Europa League kick-off on Thursday evening, and then a 12 noon start on Sunday as we face Brighton in the Premier League.

It’s not a particularly kind run of games as we head towards the Interlull, something the Arsenal manager touched on following the West Brom game.

“I would say that the schedule for us is a bit cruel,” he said.

“We played tonight, we play in BATE Borisov on Thursday night and play Sunday at 12 o’clock here.

“When you look at the schedule over the weekend I think there was some room for us to be scheduled differently, but we have to accept it and we want to go to Borisov with a good team.

“I will go with a team of senior players and certainly with a young bench.”

Youngsters like Reiss Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Josh Dasilva, Matt Macey and Joe Willock could all be involved to some extent, and the manager has some thinking to do about his wing-back conundrum too.

The team fly to Minsk today, and then onwards to Borisov for tomorrow’s game.

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46 Comments on "Wenger: Fixture schedule ‘cruel’ as Gunners head to Belarus"

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Ex-Priest Tobin

I hope we crash out of this competition sooner rather than later. A waste of time and energy.


So that you can come here and give us the ‘we can’t even compete in the Europa league’ speech? No sir.

bergkamp\'s Toe

I hope we go all the way and win the cup. Each to their own I guess


Yeah it must be terrible for you, having to watch the team you support play football matches, in a football tournament.

Andy Mack

He consistently shows very odd ‘support’ of the club…


Honestly I don’t. The group stage is tough logistically, but we should have the depth and quality to make it through, even with the pile-up.

Once that’s over with, it’ll become far more forgiving in terms of congestion, and I’d like to think we can handle that when we get there. The games will be tougher but also less frequent, and I personally like having European football. Sure, if I thought we had a chance of storming the premier league without it, I’d probably agree with you – but I honestly think we’ll make top 4 and that’s it this season, so why not try for an actual European trophy?

Yoki Rivero

This is a chance to get to the Champions League, and we know how important that is for players as far as transfers are concerned. Players want to play UCL football, and if we can’t offer that, the chances of players staying/signing are lowered.

Sure, we should rather win the league or have a top four finish, but with the league competition being very tight, you’d want this opportunity.

Lack of Perspective

I dont hear any complaints from man united fans having won the game.

Lack of Perspective

I think you sir are a waste of time energy.


Terrible state of affairs that you wish defeat on “your” team…


This wing back situation is a bit worrying but maybe a chance for a youngster to step up and make himself important to the team.


What about changing the formation for these kind of games and switch to 4 at the back? At least that might allow for a defender to play at right back.

Donald\'s Trump

Not really, he’d still be expected to attack.

Yoki Rivero


In fact, we should go with a back 4 for every game until we properly address the Wing Back situation, otherwise, we will run Bellerin and Kolasinac to the ground and we will hinder the development of the young guns by playing them out of position.

Scott P

They will still be first choice full backs… So what difference does it make if they play in a back 3 or 4 when they do play?

Clock-End Mike

On the contrary, playing a back 4 means we probably have to choose between Monreal and Kolasinac on the left, unless you play one or the other in midfield; I’d want to see them both starting in the PL.


i am worried about that too . after the first choice option of bellerin there is no quality backup option for right back/right wing back . atleast in the left wing we can move up monreal if kolasinac is injured .17 year old reiss nelson is the only option we have . but even he is too inexperienced for games like this , even if he comes good what exactly were wenger thinking when he went to the season without backup for bellerin .

little things like these makes big difference because its a long season . and other coaches like mourinho and conte would never take a risk like these thats why they are always winning and wenger will not as long as he takes these little risks . its not just this season , he takes risks like these every single season , be it not buying a quality striker till this season , not buying a backup for other positions , he does it every single season

Andy Mack

AM-N can play RWB. He was originally RW and moved to RB and/or DM, so he’s kind of ideal for the role (although I do feel a little uncomfortable when he’s at LWB).


maitland niles , reiss nelson all of them can do a job there , hell probably they might just come off as very good wingbacks . but you’re missing the point here .besides being young and inexperienced none of those players preferred positions is right wingback , none of them have even played that position during with the reserve team . wenger is just making do with what he have rather than doing all this based on a preconceived plan. and by doing that he is risking the team .


4-3-3 anyone?
Mustafi, holding, mertesaker, monreal
Niles, Elneny, wilshere,
Walcott, Giroud, iwobi


Nacho needs a rest.


He can rest when he’s dead. Lol
My reasoning for selecting nacho is he can be rested in PL matches as he plays in the back three


That first sentence is not funny.

Crash Fistfight

Have you honestly never hear that phrase?


Actually not a bad team. Just play Holding on the left side of the defense and Kolasinac replace Monreal at the half


Wouldn’t be surprised if we go on and buy an RWB in the Jan trans along with Lemar




Of course and Messi too

J singh

Don’t forget had debuchy been fit ,he would probably be playing RWB .
For me Wenger should look at who won’t be playing during international break … Eg nacho,mustafi ,hector … Use these guys for 60 mins

David Hillier\'s luggage
David Hillier\'s luggage

Monreal and Mustafi are regular sad members for Spain & Germany respectively.

David Hillier\'s luggage
David Hillier\'s luggage

squad members

nimble foot

Being sad members has a better ring to it me thinks


Early kick-off on Sunday is crazy – can’t the league look at the other fixtures and adjust?

Fox in the Director\'s Box
Fox in the Director\'s Box

The power of television who are the real masters behind the fixtures.

Crash Fistfight

I think he should just play Bellerin and Kolasinac for this one. It’s not like he wouldn’t have done that if we were in the CL, and I think the two of them could easily cope with 3 games in a week. Without wanting to underestimate Brighton, I think even after playing on Thursday the two of them could still perform to a satisfactory level to be able to beat them.

I don’t think an away game against a team that will be better than a lot of people seem to be assuming will be the best place for Maitland-Niles and Nelson to gain experience. They can play the home games if need be. I wouldn’t like to play them in the next game against Red Star, but as the Everton game is so soon after it, we might have to.


The problem isn’t just the 3 games in a week, it’s also the travelling on top. Messes up recovery big time.

Crash Fistfight

Well they’ll be travelling, regardless. They’re in the squad.

Hector, isn’t in the Spain squad, as far as I’m aware, so that’s another reason not to rest him now – he can have his rest in the international break.


Have you seen the emirates jets?
I dont understand this travelling is tiring malarky.
Ok so on ryanair or easyjet your cramped legs take a battering.
But on the emirates flights the players are basicly in a penthouse hotel suite.

AK Barrie

I definitely want us to win this competition! Winning breeds confidence! Especially if want to keep Alexis and Ozil! There might be a very very very tiny chance that they will sign an extension if we win this competition and EPL. We have the team to do it. AW just got to practical with his game plan. Play a system that will suit the players to manage the hectic schedule. I will play 4-3-3. Ospina, BFG, Holding, Debuchy, Niles, Wilshere, Xhaka, Nelson, Theo,and OG!
Bench, Alexis, Ozil, Wilson, Akpom, Elneny, Nketieh

DB\'s first touch

That’s one way to rest players…field a team of ten men…unless you’re suggesting that ospina is going to play left back


It’s not just the resting, it’s the injury risk. If either Bellerin or Kolasinac gets injured against BATE Borisov and we’re left playing Nelson as RWB in all our prem games, that’s gonna have a big impact on our league fortunes, all for an EL group we’ll probably smash through anyway.

Crash Fistfight

Fair point, but Kolasinac is built like a brick shithouse (I think that’s what Garth Crooks was getting at, Blogs), so I’d definitely start him. With Bellerin it makes more sense, but he’s hardly injury-prone.

Furthermore, neither of them have played a huge amount so far (what with being rested in places and the season being reasonably young) so I don’t think fatigue is a factor (the upcoming rest for Bellerin should alleviate any fatigue for future reference).


I hope Arsenal do well in the Europa league like all the competitions were in this year… Too many negative fans hoping we do bad in everything just so they can say I told u so….

Fox in the Director\'s Box
Fox in the Director\'s Box

The penalty that is paid for failing to qualify for the Champions League and a squad that does not have quality in depth.

Milwaukee Gunner

If Wenger is really interested in rotating the squad and putting the primary focus on the premier league, you would have to think that he is pondering resting seven to eight players at least. BFG and Holding can play defense, and pending on the fitness of Chambers and Debuchy, you might have your back three or four right there. Wilshere and Iwobi can start since they didn’t get many minutes in the last game. Giroud and Walcott can also start with Nelson and Niles also getting a run. It may mean a change in formation to the 4-2-3-1, but I fear that if he does play guys like Nacho, Kolasinac, and Bellerin, he runs the risk of injuring to an area we already lack coverage.

This particular competition is tough for me to wrap my head around. I want the boys to do well and go on a nice run so that the fringe players get the time, especially the younger ones, but the scheduling issues and the different competitions hurts our chances at trying to bounce back in the Premier League. Either way, I will be curious as to the team that starts and tuning in to watch them from the US.

Bai Blagoi

“Youngsters like Reiss Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Josh Dasilva, Matt Macey and Joe Willock could all be involved to some extent, and the manager has some thinking to do about his wing-back conundrum too.”

The Jeff? Where is The Jeff?