Manchester City v Arsenal: Arsene Wenger not complaining despite the Gunners hectic festive schedule

Three games in six days - but Wenger will not use it as an excuse

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The Independent Football

Arsenal may face their third crucial match in six days when they take on Manchester City on Saturday, but manager Arsene Wenger is not complaining about the Gunners busy festive schedule.

Vice-captain Mikel Arteta, who was sent off in the Gunners' 2-0 defeat at Napoli in the Champions League on Wednesday, had said it would be a tough ask for for the players to properly recover from the midweek trip in Italy in time for the 12.45pm kick-off at the Etihad Stadium.

Wenger, however, will demand nothing other than total commitment as his team looks to go, albeit briefly, eight points clear at the top of the Premier League with a win. The Gunners then take on Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on 23 December.

"To be completely honest, if you had given me the opportunity to do it, I would not have done it like that, but I do not complain," Wenger said of the match timing.

"That is not an excuse for us at all, we have the fixtures we have.

"It is another opportunity to show we have the mental strength to deal with it."

The Gunners' manager added: "I am convinced we believe in ourselves anyway, no matter what happens.

"Let's not forget as well that if you are in City's position and they lose, then they are nine points behind, so they have more negative pressure than we have.

"We have a positive pressure that we can make a big difference with them, so let's look at it like them.

"We have an opportunity to go from [a lead of] five [points] to eight, that is fantastic - we have to look at it like that."

England forward Theo Walcott could be in contention to start on Saturday, while full-back Bacary Sagna may also be fit following his hamstring problem.

Former Arsenal players Ray Parlour and Nigel Winterburn this week recalled how the squad won the league and FA Cup double in 1998 after "drinking and smoking" when socialising during the pre-season tour before the double-winning campaign.

Wenger concedes life is very different for the modern-day footballer - something England midfielder Jack Wilshere found to his cost earlier this season when photographed holding a cigarette outside a nightclub.

"The physical constraints have massively changed," said the manager.

"The players 20 years ago were as much winners as today. They had more freedom than today because the physical demands are much higher, and because the spying facilities of society has increased.

"Therefore it is much more difficult today to be anonymous.

"On that front the pressure on the players is much bigger than it was during Ray Parlour's time."