Arsenal are set to square off with Leeds United later today in what looks set to be one of the most exciting games of the weekend. Of course, this is one of just many games the Gunners will have to deal with between now and the end of the year, which highlights the growing issue with the insane schedule these teams will have to keep at the highest level.
As part of his pre-match press conference, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta spoke candidly about the need to protect players under the current circumstances they face.
“It’s really demanding and it’s never been done, to play the amount of games that we have to play in a calendar year, in the history of football,” he said.
“Obviously, we know the consequences of that and the only thing from my side that I would demand to the Premier League and to the broadcasters is, ‘Let’s protect the players’. At the end of the day, this industry, yes we can do it without us being together in a room.
“We’ve been doing it, training individually and doing it without having the possibility as the manager to speak to them all in a room, and we’ve even done it without the fans. But guys, we need the players. We have to protect them as much as possible.
“They are the protagonists of this whole industry and whatever you can do, if you have to modify the rules and make them a little bit more flexible for them to give them a better opportunity to be fit – and it’s not just physically, I mean mentally as well – then let’s just do it, please.”
“I am all for it [extending to five substitutions] and not only that but to extend the numbers in the squad,” he said. “At the moment, we have a big squad for different reasons and we have to leave seven or eight players at home. And at home means at home because from the training ground you go home and then from home you go to the training ground.
“So even mentally, to feel involved you are travelling away and you are two days without the squad and without your team-mates. It will be really helpful for them.
“So let’s try to help them and make them involved in what we are trying to do here and I think that there are easy decisions. But I don’t know. It’s my opinion and let’s hope we can change it.”
Quotes courtesy of Arsenal.com
How harsh is the current schedule for professional players?