Here’s a simple way to stop fixture fuming
After the United boss wondered aloud if the league was handicapping his club through their fixture list, his Arsenal counterpart crunched the numbers over the weekend
“I saw Ferguson made the case about fixtures,” Wenger said. “And we checked because we are always curious. And he has a case, and in this case so do we.
“If you take the international fixtures plus the Champions League, everybody has played ten games, six Champions League games and four internationals. And after those 10 games, we played eight away games and two at home. Manchester United played nine away games, Chelsea played six games at home and four away. And Liverpool played eight times at home and two away.”
With domestic fixtures necessarily organised before those in Europe, it’s difficult to completely follow their arguments but there’d certainly be one easy way to end the fixture problem in England.
It might be a bold suggestion in the current economic climate – and one which the Premier League would never accept – but never mind the 39th fixture, let’s cut the top flight down to 18 teams and why not scrap the League Cup while we’re at it.
In the Bundesliga (18 clubs) they get to put their feet up for six weeks every winter. And sure, there are 20 sides in the top divisions in Spain and Italy but they only have one domestic cup competition to distract them.
As for the League Cup, why not follow the German lead again and make it a pre-season tournament, an extension of the Community Shield. I doubt you’d hear a peep from Ferguson or Wenger.
Maybe then we could get down to tacking another tradition – the Boxing Day programme – and give these poor overworked players a few festive days off.
PHOTO: Arsene Wenger at Arsenal training, London Colney, Nov. 24, 2008. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh