Arsenal News: Arsene Wenger Furious with Belgium and Holland

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Arsenal News: Arsene Wenger Furious with Belgium and Holland
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger cannot understand why Belgium national manager, Georges Leekens, played Thomas Vermaelen for the entire 90 minutes of the friendly match with Greece when the manager had other options on the bench.

Wenger spoke ahead of Arsenal's Premier League clash with Liverpool on Saturday.

It looks like Belgium has made a decision which I still do not understand and we will look to see if we can put a complaint in.

Firstly they forced the player to travel, then they forced him to play 90 minutes after being injured and had a centre-back on the bench who did not play at all, in a friendly game knowing they do not even go to the European Championship. For me, that is difficult to understand.

Wenger fears playing Vermaelen for 90 minutes. Additionally, Robin van Persie being played by Holland against England despite a groin problem puts both players at risk of serious injury, a prospect that would be detrimental to Arsenal's cause for the rest of the season.

For us it is vital we do not lose the players now. If you go into a period like that with players already touched (by injury) you have more chances to lose the players.

The Holland manager (Bert van Marwijk) hasn't spoken to me, but he knew Robin was injured because he said despite his groin problem, he will play him, it is the same with the Belgium manager (Georges Leekens).

We are the only team in the world who had that schedule so it is very difficult to understand that our players had to go injured to Greece and play 90 minutes for Belgium. That's frankly not defendable.

Clive Mason/Getty Images
National duties have limited Gervinho's contribution at Arsenal in recent times.

It is disrespectful to the players as well as me.

Wenger isn't happy with the frequency at which international friendlies are played, either.

Personally I think that the friendlies are becoming more and more difficult to accept for everybody.

For example, we had Gervinho going to the Africa Cup of Nations. You lose the player for a month and I cannot play him. He goes again on Wednesday night to play for Ivory Coast, in Ivory Coast. It's absolutely ridiculous, frankly. He came back [on Thursday] but I couldn’t use him until now because he was tired from the Africa Cup of Nations.

I was always in favour of using the players for official games and I never asked any player not to go 100 per cent for his country when it is a qualifier or a big competition. But the friendlies are becoming more and more difficult, especially in this period.

Arsenal travel to Liverpool this weekend and hope to get a result at the Kop to keep alive their hope of grabbing a place in next year's Champions League.

Champions League return match against AC Milan at the Emirates on Tuesday follows Saturday's match against Liverpool. Both are difficult matches and Wenger needs his leading players fully fit.

The fact that both Thomas Vermaelen and Robin van Persie have had to return from injury and that this season is one of the few they've played for an extended period of time, puts Wenger's complaint in context. Both have been injured on international duties before.

In the case of Thomas Vermaelen, the fact that this was a friendly match in which nothing, beside pride, was at stake, and the fact that Georges Leekens could make six substitutions in this match renders his decision to play Vermaelen for the entire 90 minutes of the match more baffling.

Even the fact that Belgium had to play much of the match with 10 men doesn't excuse this thoughtlessness. Couldn't he find a single player among his six substitutes that could take over from Vermaelen?

The situation and Wenger's complain only highlights further the increasing tension between international and club football. The ascendancy of the latter over the former may be a foretaste of where the future of football is headed. 

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