What Top Premier League Managers Have Said About The Festive Fixture Programme
Many of the Premier League's leading managers have criticised the hectic festive fixture schedule and the impact it has had on their teams.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at what they said:
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola on the need to protect players:
"We are going to kill them. I think the federation (FA) has to reflect. Here in England, we don't protect the players and that is a big mistake. You have to look for the quality, not the quantity. You can play every three, four or five days but not play every two days. It is not basketball, it is not tennis. The players need recovery. But it doesn't matter. The show must go on. I don't think anything is going to happen because the tradition is the tradition, but just think a little bit about the players, please. They are artists."
Jose Mourinho on how Manchester United's fixture schedule compared to others:
"We did the simple objective study on that and there is a big gap – a really big gap – between some clubs and other clubs. There are clearly the ones that are really privileged, there are clearly another group of the ones that are really punished by the decisions of the calendar and there are another group in the middle of it where I would like to be."
Arsene Wenger on referees and the fixture list after Arsenal's draw at West Brom:
"Two things that aren't normal in the the Premier League is the schedule and referees. Maybe we haven't played well enough, but West Brom had five days to prepare and we had three. I'm ready to play every day as long as our opponent has the same time to recover. It's not normal. We have the same problem against Chelsea on Wednesday, they played on Saturday."
Antonio Conte, at the start of December, on what he saw as a 'fixture conspiracy' against Chelsea:
"I don't want advantages. If we have to play every two days, I'm ready. But we need to have the same rest as our opponents, then we see what happens. Is it difficult to do this? I don't think so. It is a strange coincidence."
And Mauricio Pochettino, not complaining ahead of Tottenham's clash with West Ham:
"It will be difficult for the players, but I am not going to complain. We are going to rest 48 hours until this fixture. We are maybe going to rotate and make some changes to bring some fresh legs to the team. This is an opportunity to play with the squad – and that is important."