Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has disputed rival Louis van Gaal's latest gripe over the Premier League's lack of a winter break, claiming that he would cry if the traditionally packed festive schedule was altered in future.
Following another difficult Champions League outing away to CSKA Moscow midweek in which summer signing Anthony Martial conceded a first-half penalty before rescuing a point with a late stooping header, the Frenchman's Manchester United counterpart described the absence of a proper rest as damaging to England's chances of success at international level and the "most evil thing of this culture".
Wenger has also been an outspoken critic of the domestic fixture list in the not too distant past. Prior to his side's 2015/16 opening defeat against West Ham in August, the 66-year-old bemoaned the decision to begin the league season seven days earlier ahead of the 2016 European Championships with only one less game in December to compensate.
He has also been critical of Wales' decision to field Aaron Ramsey during their recent qualifier against Andorra, complaining that the midfielder had been "overloaded" and expressing regret that he also utilised him for 90 minutes during the 3-0 win over Watford before he sustained another hamstring injury against Bayern Munich that will now see him sidelined for up to four weeks.
Despite those previous groans, however, Wenger appears to have developed something of an affinity for the Christmas schedule, with a particular emphasis on the traditional Boxing Day clash that will this year see Arsenal travel to face Southampton at St Mary's and Manchester United play Stoke.
"I have a lot of respect for LVG but I don't agree with him on that," he told the assembled media prior to this weekend's visit of Roberto Martinez and Everton as reported by The Mirror. "Today I would cry if you change that because it is part of English tradition and football. On 26 December, the whole of Europe comes to watch those games."
Arsenal welcome Everton to the Emirates Stadium in a confident mood following three straight victories in all competitions that has seen the Gunners plunder eight goals – including three against Manchester United and two in the hugely impressive win over in-form Bayern Munich – without reply. Ramsey is unavailable for selection following his latest setback, but defender Gabriel could feature after returning to full training this week. David Ospina remains out along with long-term absentees Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky.