Mikel Arteta criticises 'unusual' scheduling of Aston Villa clash

Mikel Arteta urges Premier League to scrap Wednesday-Saturday lunchtime turnaround as Arsenal face Aston Villa just 63 hours after their midweek defeat to title rivals Manchester City

  • Mikel Arteta has criticised the scheduling of Arsenal’s trip to Aston Villa
  • The Gunners will play the lunchtime kick-off after playing on Wednesday night
  • Arteta claims scheduling should mirror an agreement for the Champions League 

Mikel Arteta has called on the Premier League to scrap the Wednesday-Saturday lunchtime turnaround as Arsenal prepare to face Aston Villa just 63 hours after their crunch clash with Manchester City.

Arsenal’s top-of-the-table tussle ended around 9.30pm on Wednesday, two and half days before they visit Villa Park.

Title rivals City return to action a few hours later, away to Nottingham Forest at 3pm. 

Following a meeting in May 2021, teams in European action never play earlier than 3pm on the following Saturday and on Friday.

Arteta said: ‘There are certain rules with the Champions League – when you are playing on Wednesday night and then you cannot play (on Saturday lunchtime). So I think that should apply to any competition.’

Mikel Arteta has claimed the scheduling of Arsenal’s match against Aston Villa is ‘unusual’

The Gunners face a tight turnaround following their defeat to Manchester City on Wednesday

Thomas Partey will be assessed as the midfielder recovers from a muscle problem

He added: ‘I think following the same principle, I think you are talking physiologically, that is very difficult to turnaround on that period to get the best outcome and reduce the injury risk for players, but that’s it.’

Arsenal can return to the Premier League summit with victory over Villa and Arteta is determined not to let scheduling become an excuse.

‘That’s what we want to do. They put the schedule the way they did. It’s a bit unusual, but it’s what it is. The players are highly motivated for tomorrow’s game because we want to perform well and win the game.’ 

‘It is what it is. We play tomorrow, we will have full energy,’ he said.

‘It’s not [about] being worried or not worried. We have to play. 

‘I want the players to be in the best possible mindset and physically ready to get that challenge going… we knew we were going to play at that time. That’s not an excuse.’

Arsenal are without a win in four matches and Thomas Partey will be assessed ahead of the trip to Villa, who are managed by former Gunners boss Unai Emery, following a muscular problem. 

Gabriel Jesus remains sidelined but Emile Smith Rowe will train on Friday and could return to the squad following injury.

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