Arsene Wenger: "Manchester United Extremely, Unfairly Advantaged"

Jacob NitzbergAnalyst IJanuary 23, 2009

One by one, managers of the top clubs in the Premier League have complained about the schedule of games.

This week, it's Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who had the following to say about top-sitting Manchester United's upcoming fixtures:

"'You can say that Manchester United have been extremely advantaged, unexplainably advantaged."

Manchester United plays Tuesday at West Brom, and does not have another fixture until Everton visits Old Trafford on the following Monday.

Arsenal, meanwhile, travels to Cardiff on Sunday for an FA cup tie, travels again to Goodison Park to face Everton on Wednesday night, and finishes the week at home vs. West Ham United.

So to summarize, Arsenal has three matches in six days, while Manchester United has two. 


Just this past Tuesday, Manchester United finished the same type of schedule—playing Wigan on Dec. 14, Bolton on Dec. 17, and Derby County in a Carling Cup semifinal on Dec. 20.

If that were Wenger's only gripe, I would be blasting him for opening his mouth.  But he had more to say on the matter.

"It is difficult to explain why one team plays on Tuesday and the others are all on Wednesday. It is unfair competition—Manchester United plays on Tuesday at West Brom, after they play against Everton who will have played on Sunday, again on Wednesday night."

''I do not think you need to be a specialist in football to understand that in this case it is an unfair advantage for Manchester United."

Wenger is upset that United plays a game against an Everton team who will have played an extra game since United's last fixture.  I'm not even going to bother looking up how many times that has happened in the past, but I'm sure both Everton and Arsenal have been beneficiaries of that at least once.

To be fair, Wenger does point out that his gripe is with the schedule makers and not with the clubs. Whether or not he believes that it was intentionally done to favor the Red Devils, or whether he is simply pointing this "travesty" out to the rest of the world, is to be determined.

In my opinion, the schedule makers have a thankless task and get far more grief for it than they deserve.  They must take into account the Premier League, Carling Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Cup, and Champions League when putting together the fixtures for every club.  With so many different types of matches, it's unavoidable for a situation such as this to arise. 

To Arsene Wenger, I say play the matches on your schedule, and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing.  If you win yours, regardless of how "unfairly" scheduled they might be, nobody else's fixtures matter.