Happy Friday folks. We travel to the north-east to face Sunderland on Sunday afternoon and having played on Thursday night, some might worry the team haven’t been afforded enough time to rest and recuperate.
Yet Arsene Wenger cited a UEFA study in explaining why he’s not concerned about having to play again this weekend. Speaking at his pre-match press conference earlier today, the boss said:
Between Thursday and Sunday and Wednesday and Saturday morning is exactly the same. You know we played on Wednesday night at Barcelona and then on Saturday against Everton at 12.45pm. It’s no problem. In fact, there’s a very interesting study that has come out from Uefa that shows that the points taken by the teams three days later are not less than after four or five days. It’s the opposite and that is quite interesting. The study has been made in all the five best leagues in Europe. Nobody has proven that it is a disadvantage to have only three days rest. The points on average are better than after four or five days.
Meanwhile, Arsene also provided an update on the fitness of midfielders Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, hinting that we’re unlikely to see much of the trio this season given there are only four games left to play. He said:
They (Cazorla and Oxlade-Chamberlain) are not ready yet and I haven’t decided yet, but there are not many games left. We still have games in the under-21s, I can put them in the play-off games [if they are available]. I cannot plan that (Wilshere playing against Sunderland). At the moment I do not know if I will take him on Sunday or not. Should I take him, you cannot plan that he will play a part in the game. He made a big improvement in the third [under-21s] game. In the first two he was alright, but in the third he found his burst back, the little change of pace. If I don’t take him this weekend, I will take him [in the squad] the weekend after, certainly.
Finally for this evening, Arsene also reveled his surprise at Mseut Ozil’s shock omission from the PFA Team of the Year. He said:
It’s a surprise for me. I cannot explain it, because it’s the players who vote. I don’t know why they did not pick him. Yeah [he deserves to be in the team]. When you are top of the assists, usually that’s a sign of quality that should get you a place in a top team.
Personally, I couldn’t give two hoots our peerless German pass-master wasn’t included. I mean, given the side was voted for by fellow players, it actually makes sense. His opponents this year clearly have it in for him after he proved too skillful, too elusive and too assisty when he faced them. Plus I don’t want him sharing a midfield with or providing ammunition for Tottenham players anyway, even if it’s only on paper.
Back tomorrow with a preview piece.