Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 1 November 2014

Premier League stands by fixture list after Wenger criticism

The Premier League have defended their fixture organisation following criticism from Arsene Wenger over his Arsenal side playing three times this week.

Wenger was furious after being asked to play Liverpool on Sunday and Burnley on Wednesday before hosting Hull on Saturday, while Phil Brown's side have enjoyed a free week.

Frenchman Wenger suggested "the guy who organised the fixtures this season must have come out of a special school, because he is more intelligent than I am" but is unlikely to face action from authorities over his clumsy statement.

The Premier League, however, strongly stand by the way the fixtures have been arranged, given that the campaign finishes earlier than last season due to the World Cup.

"The Premier League fixture calendar is a complicated process," a Premier League spokesperson said. "It is as fair as possible to the clubs who all take an active part in the process ahead of the fixtures being announced.

"This Barclays Premier League season has been a particularly difficult one to schedule given an increased amount of Champions League and Europa League dates from UEFA, and a truncated season because of the FIFA World Cup. That will not be the case next season."

Other factors for the way fixtures have been compiled include the Champions League last-32 matches being played over four weeks rather than two, while the final of the competition being on a Saturday impacts on the FA Cup final.

There is also an argument that issues could have been brought up during the Fixtures Working Party at the start of the season when representatives from clubs, the Football Association, police and fans' groups met.

Wenger reacted after his side dropped points at Turf Moor and saw captain Cesc Fabregas limp off with a hamstring injury during the 1-1 draw.

Gunners midfielder Abou Diaby said: "We have to get closer to Chelsea and catch them and that is why we're so disappointed that we couldn't take another step and we lost some points. It is very frustrating.

"This League is very tough and everyone knows that. The most important thing is to focus on the next game."

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