Off the back of Wednesday’s comments that the Premier League and its broadcasters are subjecting Arsenal to an ‘unfair’ schedule, Mikel Arteta was again pressed on the matter ahead of his side’s trip to Aston Villa.
Having voiced his annoyance that the Gunners are twice going to play league matches on a Saturday lunchtime having already played in the Wednesday evening slot, he recognised its an issue that teams in Europe often face but drew attention to Arsenal being the only side to have back-to-back league encounters arranged that way.
“I do,” said Arteta when asked if he stands by his comments after the Liverpool defeat.
“I’m talking about the Premier League. I heard some comments about it being that way when you are in Europe, it’s nothing new, it’s nothing new to me.
“I’m not comparing Europe, I’m comparing the Premier League and how we schedule the games when you’re in the Premier League. When you’re in Europe it’s a different story but I’m comparing the Premier League and it’s very different.
“We’re the only team that has been scheduled like that,” he added when the April double-header with Chelsea and Manchester United was raised.
“I’m not talking again about Europe because some of those teams are not going to be involved in Europe.”
When it was put to Arteta that clubs willingly take the money from the broadcasters before complaining about the way things are scheduled, he responded:
“There is no question about that, they can do it [arrange the matches when they want]. It’s good. They can do it, we have to accept it, I accept it, we’re going to be playing, that’s not a problem.
“It’s how can we do it fairer and to have equality in every game. Again, this is out of Europe, Europe is not counting here, so the Europe talk is out of this conversation. It’s nothing to do with Europe.
He added: “The first thing is to protect the players and we [the managers] mentioned that many times – ‘Can we please avoid the Wednesday night, Saturday morning and travelling and other things?’
“I understand, they have the commitments and TV and we all understand that needs. You do it once [schedule Arsenal Wednesday and Saturday] but don’t do it twice.
“We still have to put the fixture with Sp*rs [in the diary], for the third time, are we going to be the only ones to do it? You don’t want to be silly there.
On whether he’s concerned about the potential timing of the north London derby at Sp*rs, he said: “Yes. Because I don’t know [when it will be] and we’re not going to be deciding and it’s going to be very important.
He went on to make clear that he’s not had any conversation with the authorities about the timing.
“That’s nothing to do with me,” he said. “It’s the club that has to arrange those conversations. Hopefully [we’ll get a say], I doubt it, but hopefully.”
Interestingly, according to the Mirror, BT Sport have agreed that when they want to feature a side who’ve played in the Champions League on Wednesday in their regular 12.30pm Saturday slot, they will instead allow the game to take place at 7.45pm in the evening to allow for extra recovery.