Wenger backs Benitez over United 'advantage' claims
Arsene Wenger has backed Rafael Benitez by saying the fixture list is "unexplainably advantaged" towards Manchester United. Although the Arsenal manager's claims do not amount to the same kind of outburst made by Benitez two weeks ago, he does reiterate the Spaniard's concerns that there is a favouritism towards the Premier League champions in the way games are arranged.
"I feel that next week Benitez has a case if you look at the way the fixtures are arranged," said Wenger. "You can say that Manchester United have been extremely advantaged, unexplainably advantaged.
"But that is what we have to cope with. It's difficult to explain why one team plays on Tuesday and the others are all on Wednesday. It is unfair competition. Next week the fixtures are advantaged for Manchester United, who before had a point against Liverpool – I supported them when they had a case. But this week, I think Benitez has a case. I do not think you need to be a specialist in football to understand that in this case it's an unfair advantage for Manchester United. Will it have an advantage on the global season? I don't know, you would have to analyse that better. It is not Manchester United's fault, it is not Liverpool's fault. It's the organisers of the fixtures. They have a case to explain."
Wenger's argument is that United play on Tuesday, away to West Brom, and then not again until the following Monday, when they host Everton. Arsenal have to visit Everton on Wednesday before facing West Ham at home on Saturday, giving them less time to recover. Liverpool, of course, play Everton in the FA Cup tomorrow before travelling to Wigan Athletic on Wednesday and then playing Chelsea on Sunday.
By Wenger's reasoning it would appear that Everton manager David Moyes has the most to complain about but it is a sign of the sensitivity surrounding United, who have assumed top spot in the league, ahead of Liverpool on goal difference having played a game less, and six points clear of Arsenal, that he has decided to follow Benitez's lead in claiming there has been – deliberate or otherwise – a bias.
Arsenal's protracted pursuit of Andrei Arshavin continued yesterday with the board of Zenit St Petersburg meeting once more to discuss their latest offer. Arsenal are proposing a deal which could amount to £15m for the 28-year-old once add-ons and incentives are included, with a basic £10m paid up front.
They have become increasingly frustrated by Zenit's tactics, given the player is clearly for sale and also because they have been the only serious bidder for Arshavin for some time. Arsenal director Ken Friar has been in St Petersburg to conclude a deal with the club having set a deadline of Monday before moving on to other targets.
However the signs are clear that Zenit, who have, so far, unsuccessfully attempted to drum up interest in their prize asset from other clubs, want to conclude the transfer with Arsenal and are now haggling over the payment structure.
Latest in Sport
New day (slowly) rising – As Brasileirão gets underway, Brazilian football stumbles, rather than leaps into the future
The average Serie A crowd last year was 13,000 - comparable to Australia’s A-League.
by James Young
24 May 2013 04:31 PM
Monaco is a street circuit where driver ability is more important than anywhere else and if we take ...
by Gareth Purnell
24 May 2013 02:00 AM
Three weeks ago as I drove off the Eurostar, I remember thinking what a very long time it was until ...
by Martin Ayres
23 May 2013 05:29 PM
Why Manchester City were willing to fork out $500m on stake in MLS
Manchester City coach in waiting Manuel Pellegrini: Inside the mind of anti-Mancini
Champions League final: Biggest German invasion since the fifth century as Bayern Munich face Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich: 50 things you need to know about the Champions League final
Champions League Final: Can Jürgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund stop the Bayern Munich machine?
- 1 What, let gays get married? We must be bonkers
- 2 Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
- 3 Exclusive: How MI5 blackmails British Muslims
- 4 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
- 5 Exclusive: Woolwich killings suspect Michael Adebolajo was inspired by cleric banned from UK after urging followers to behead enemies of Islam
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.