Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has criticised the Premier League’s holiday fixture schedule, calling it “absolutely unbelievable” that leaders Chelsea get more rest than other teams.
Arsenal boss believes the festive fixture list is the most “uneven” he has seen in 20 years.
Having beaten Crystal Palace on Sunday, Arsenal visit Bournemouth on Tuesday, while leaders Chelsea won on Saturday and are not in action until Wednesday.
“In 20 years it is the most uneven Christmas period I have seen on the fixture front,” Wenger said.
“The difference of rest periods is absolutely unbelievable, compared to the other teams it is unbelievable.”
Referring to the lucrative television rights deal signed by the Premier League, Wenger – whose side have not won the title since 2004, added: “I don’t know any more whether the Premier League is the master of the fixtures.
“We have to accept that television chooses the games – but I must say on that front that some teams have a bit more luck than others.”
Victory over Palace took Arsenal to third in the table, but they trail Chelsea by nine points before Tuesday’s match against ninth-placed Bournemouth.
“Every game is so difficult in this Premier League that we go now into a game in 48 hours’ time with a big handicap on the fixtures,” the Frenchman added.
Across the whole festive period, Arsenal will have had more rest between their three fixtures than all of their title rivals bar Chelsea, with Liverpool’s games giving them three days less recovery time than Antonio Conte’s team.
Chelsea, who beat Bournemouth on 26 December and Stoke on 31 December, finish the festive fixtures at Spurs on Wednesday.
Wenger’s situation is made worse by Mesut Ozil’s illness and short-term injuries to Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs that forced all three out of Sunday’s 2-0 win over Palace and could limit his ability to rotate the squad unless they recover quickly. However, Arsenal were boosted by the return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from a hamstring problem, and the midfielder could be among a handful of changes to Wenger’s starting XI at Bournemouth.
Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin and Shkodran Mustafi could also start after being on the bench against Palace.
“We go now into another game in 48 hours with a big handicap in our fixtures, and I have to try to find some fresh legs,” Wenger said.
Palace boss Sam Allardyce also complained about the tight scheduling, saying that “I don’t know who does the fixtures, but he really needs sacking.”