Belfast Telegraph

Wenger upset about fixture list

Arsene Wenger fears the fixture list has done Arsenal's Barclays Premier League title bid no favours, but accepts his men must go back to basics if they are to have a chance of overhauling Manchester United.

The Gunners saw United extend their lead at the top of the table to seven points after coming from behind to win at West Ham in Saturday's early kick-off, while Wenger's side drew 0-0 with 10-man Blackburn in the late game. Next weekend will also see the top two have staggered matches, with United hosting Fulham 24 hours before Arsenal are at Blackpool.

"There are a lot of things going on which I don't want to talk about," Wenger said. "I have been here for 15 years, I know how things work. I want to be completely neutral, like I have to be. I am not involved in any decision. I do not do the schedule."

He added: "I look when do we play? It is on Sunday until the end of the season. But I do not want to speak about anything else like we look for an excuse about our performance."

Indeed, Wenger's side have now played their last Saturday fixture of the season, and will tackle United in an encounter which will have a massive influence on the final destination of the Premier League crown at Emirates Stadium on May 1. However, the Arsenal boss insisted the root of his side's problems lies closer to home.

"We have not been good enough, which is the main information of the Blackburn game, and we have to worry about being better in our next game," he said. "I have no influence on the fixtures, the referees, not on anything else here."

"I don't think the players did not want it against Blackburn, we were just one-paced, and that is not our game. You get your belief through your attitude, and of course we have been shocked by what has happened.

"That is why we have to put even more effort in. We had nothing in the tank to produce a change of pace. We looked very predictable, and usually we are not. Now we want to focus on our next game and show we are good enough."

Unlike United, who head to Chelsea for their all British Champions League quarter-final clash, Arsenal will not have any distractions of European football to get in the way of preparations for the trip to Blackpool.

"We have the players available for the whole week and what is important is we work on our basics and come back to what we are strong at," Wenger said.


From Belfast Telegraph