London: Arsene Wenger has criticised the gruelling schedule that forces Arsenal to play three games in the space of just seven days.
Wenger’s side eased to a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Monday thanks to Alexandre Lacazette’s brace at the Emirates Stadium in London.
But Wenger and his players had little time to reflect on that success before they board a flight to Belarus for Thursday’s Europa League clash with Bate Borisov.
Once that draining trip is out of the way, Arsenal have been given only 48 hours to recover before they are due to host Brighton in another important Premier League fixture early on Sunday afternoon.
Wenger is frustrated by the way the Premier League fixture planners give in to the demands of television broadcasters without considering the effect it has on players.
Asked if he would field a weaker team against Borisov in Europe’s second-tier tournament, Wenger said: “I have a decision to make. At the moment I would say the schedule for us is a bit cruel.
“We play on Monday night, we play in Borisov on Thursday, and we play on Sunday morning.
“We have to accept it, but I will go with a team of senior players and certainly a young bench.
“There’s no need to talk to the Premier League because it is television who decides.
“For the team selection it has an impact.”
In the midst of such a busy week, Wenger was relieved to see off obdurate Albion, who could have taken the lead but had an early penalty appeal not given before Lacazette opened the scoring with a 20th-minute header.
Lacazette doubled Arsenal’s lead with a second-half penalty awarded for Allan Nyom’s foul on Aaron Ramsey.
With four goals since his close-season move from Lyon, the France striker is starting to repay his hefty price tag. — AFP