Mikel Arteta has slammed the FA for the fixture pile-up, stating that the Gunners have a major disadvantage when they take on Manchester City at the Etihad on Saturday as they do not have any recovery time following their trip back from Naples.
Arsenal lost their final group game to Napoli on Wednesday and after returning to England at 4 AM will set themselves for a lunchtime kick-off on Saturday, a little more than 48 hours after a tiring performance. Arteta was sent off after 75 minutes as he was handed a second yellow card for only the second challenge he committed in the game. The Gunners managed to scrape through as they restricted Napoli to only two goals. Napoli needed another goal to oust Arsenal from the qualification zone.
Arteta is bemused by the fixture pile-up which brings back memories of their game against Manchester United, when they had to play the Red Devils away from home after a brilliant performance against Borussia Dortmund in Germany. A win against City will go a long way in inscribing their title credentials and will take them nine points above City, with Chelsea being five points adrift.
"I don't understand why we play against Everton on Sunday afternoon, play in Naples on Wednesday evening, get back at 4am and then play again early on Saturday in Manchester. Our preparation for the game will just be about recovery. It's not ideal because they will be ready for us as they rested seven players in Munich. We have to be ready, no excuses. We want to win there and we have to be prepared," Arteta said.
Meanwhile, the Spaniard believes that their loss to Napoli isn't much of a setback but insists that it would have been ideal to top the group.
"I'm sure we can compete on our day with any team in Europe, but obviously you make it tougher on yourself [if you finish second]. If we had finished first it would have been a different story, but we have to take it on the chin." he explained to www.arsenal.com.
"Probably before [the competition started] if you had said we were going to get through, we would have been happy with that. But with the position we were in, you want to finish first because you know you're going to face really difficult opposition in the next round.
"We're disappointed to lose the [Napoli} game, but we can still take some positives because it was a really tough group," he concluded.