• Premier League

Wenger: Check your facts on fixtures, Jose

ESPN staff
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Arsene Wenger knows he cannot afford to lose his top players during a crucial run of games in February © Getty Images
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Arsenal manager Arsener Wenger believes Jose Mourinho is misguided in his belief that the Gunners have any say in their fixture list.

The Chelsea boss called on the FA to scrap FA Cup replays to ease fixture congestion for clubs involved in multiple competitions, adding that one alternative was "to get the same influence that Arsenal has on the fixtures and choose the days to play."

A clearly agitated Wenger denied that Arsenal were being given an unfair advantage in the arrangement of fixtures.

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"If you look at the fixtures and analyse it, with an objective view, you will see that Arsenal are behind all the other teams," Wenger said.

"In the last five years, all the objective studies that have been made have shown that Arsenal have less rest than any other team at the top level in the top four. That's facts, nothing to do with my opinion. An independent company has made that and shown that Arsenal have less rest than all the other teams at the top level.

"It's not mind games, it's opinions, but I don't live with opinions, I live with facts. The facts are not depending on me, not depending on Mourinho, just on objective analysis."

Wenger knows his side cannot afford to lose key players ahead of what looks certain to be a defining few weeks in their bid for major honours in Febraury.

The FA Cup fifth round draw paired Arsenal with Liverpool, the first in a run of fixtures that will test the strength of Wenger's squad to the full.

Two clashes against Brendan Rodgers' side, as well as a Premier League game against Manchester United and a Champions League tie against Bayern Munich represent a daunting challenge for a trophy chasing Gunners side.

"What is important is that you don't lose players from now until this period, that you have all the players available," said Wenger, whose side face a tricky trip to Southampton in the Premier League on Tuesday night. "That is very important but you can never be sure about that.

"For the rest you just go game by game, focus on the next one and if you win the next one you have more chances to win the one after. So the two together; keep your squad available and win the next game, that's our policy.

"We have plenty of big games, that means the whole squad will need to be highly focused. To deal with that is a massive challenge for the squad but I'm confident we can do that."

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