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Dublin: 19 °C Friday 31 October, 2014

Wenger slams friendlies scheduling

The Arsenal boss is rarely averse to having a good moan, and today is no exception.

Robin van Persie battles for the ball with England's Scott Parker (left) and Chris Smalling.
Robin van Persie battles for the ball with England's Scott Parker (left) and Chris Smalling.
Image: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire/Press Association Images

ARSENE WENGER HAS blasted international friendlies after potentially losing three key players ahead of Arsenal’s clash with Liverpool.

Gervinho is a doubt after arriving back to training late, while Robin van Persie and Thomas Vermaelen played midweek matches despite pre-existing injuries.

It is not the first time that the Frenchman has complained about such games, with Van Persie in particular having a history of injuries while on duty with the Netherlands.

“Personally I think that the friendlies are becoming more and more difficult to accept for everybody,” Wenger told the club’s official website.

“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 percent 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.”

Wenger was particularly disappointed with the managers of Belgium and Netherlands after seeing Van Persie and Vermaelen represent their countries despite suffering from niggling injuries, the Belgian playing the full game against Greece.

“The Holland manager hasn’t spoken to me but he knew Robin was injured because he said he will play him, despite his groin problem,” Wenger said.

“The same with the Belgium manager. We are the only team in the world who have that schedule (of three games in nine days) so it is very difficult to understand that our players had to go injured to Greece and play 90 minutes for Belgium. That’s not defendable.”

Impossible

“We played Sunday against Tottenham, Wednesday night international friendlies, Saturday 12.45 at Liverpool, Tuesday night against Milan.”

“Any football player knows that it is impossible to play these four games at the top level. It is impossible. So for us it is vital we do not lose the players now.”

Wenger was keen, however, for an introduction of a rule to allow a potential fourth substitute for matches that enter a phase of extra-time.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) are due to debate the possible law and the 62-year-old would be keen to see it implemented.

“I am always ready to improve our sport if it makes sense,” the Arsenal manager said.

“Four substitutes is not stupid, I think it is an intelligent way to deal with the fact that sometimes you have extra time.”

“There are plenty of rules which can improve our sport. You want to keep it simple and not to add too many rules, but one more substitute, why not?”

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