Wenger questions match scheduling


Published: Thursday 16th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has questioned the “conflicting” scheduling of Saturday’s Barclays Premier League showdown between Chelsea and Manchester United in direct competition with their FA Cup semi-final against Reading at Wembley.

The Gunners take on the Royals at 5:20pm which will be shown live on the BBC. However, only some 10 minutes later, the Premier League leaders will kick off on Sky Sports against third-placed United at Stamford Bridge.

Under Premier League broadcast deals, the selection of Chelsea versus Manchester United was set back in February, when the FA Cup semi-finalists were still unknown. The Football Association and rights holders BBC and BT Sport decide independently on the weekend slots for their competition.

Despite the fixtures timings not playing out as all broadcasters may have first hoped, Wenger still feels more consideration should have been made to keep the two high-profile games separate.

“I am a bit surprised that a (Premier League) game of the same stature is played at the same time. There is a bit of conflict there that is difficult to understand,” said Wenger at his pre-match media conference on Thursday morning.

“Something should be done about it.

“I am surprised that they did not analyse that in television deals because basically what happens there, it is something that should have been planned, that two television channels who pay a lot of money for football have conflicted interests in promoting games. That inside the country shouldn’t happen.”

Wenger added: “You would like it (FA Cup) to be the unique competition that is played, especially a semi-final and a final, you would want it not to conflict with other competitions.”

Chelsea could extend their lead over Arsenal to 10 points should they beat United, but also remain just seven ahead and level on matches if they are defeated by Louis van Gaal’s in-form side.

Arsenal host Chelsea next weekend, but Wenger is not looking any further ahead than Saturday’s cup tie at Wembley.

“Mathematically yes (defeat for Chelsea would open up the title race again), but we have to win our games. That is all we can do,” Wenger said.

Arsenal have a near full-strength side to choose from this weekend, with midfielder Jack Wilshere having returned to full fitness, although captain Mikel Arteta is not yet back in contention from his injury lay-off nor is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Wenger feels the fierce competition for places can only be positive.

He said: “Everybody feels that it is difficult to get in the team, all the players have top, top quality.

“Of course it’s difficult for me as well to make these kind of decisions.

“You do not ask anybody to understand that he doesn’t play because they all deserve to play.

“They have to accept it and to respect the decision, that is what you want from the players.”

Published: Thursday 16th April 2015 by The News Editor

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