BURNLEY, December 17 – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has waded into the row over Wolves's decision to field a weakened team at Manchester United and believes the incident has called into question the integrity of the Premier League.Wenger, already disappointed by his side’s 1-1 draw at Burnley on Wednesday night, admits there is little he can do about Mick McCarthy’s decision to send Wolves out at Old Trafford 24 hours earlier with what was effectively a second string side.
McCarthy justified his decision on the grounds that his first-choice XI were exhausted after winning at Tottenham on Sunday and needed to be rested ahead of Sunday’s match with Burnley.
But Wenger believes United, who won the match 3-0, were effectively handed the points and insists there should be an obligation on clubs to field their strongest sides.
"It’s sad but what can I do about that?" the Frenchman said. "I’m responsible for Arsenal. We’ll compete with Man United over 37 games instead of 38!
"I believe it’s a problem for the international credibility of the Premier League for sure, but it’s not my problem, it’s a Premier League problem.
"The Premier League has a basic problem in organising the fixtures in a normal way because the guy who organised the fixtures must have come out of a special school because he’s more intelligent than I am.
"They organised midweek games in a week where there’s Europa League and that means that some teams will not play in midweek.
"Next week is a free week and there’s no European football. There are some teams that don’t play at all and we play Sunday, Wednesday away and at home on Saturday against Hull who haven’t played all week.
"It’s also damaging for Burnley. You know from the start that some teams won’t be capable of playing on the day that you’ve organised the fixtures. For me it’s difficult to understand but maybe they have a different logic."
Wenger’s hopes of claiming the title this season were dealt a blow at Turf Moor, especially in the wake of Arsenal’s decisive win at Liverpool
To make matters worse he could be without key midfielder Cesc Fabregas for several weeks after he limped off with a hamstring problem and will miss Saturday’s visit of Hull City.
Fabregas had given Arsenal an early lead but, despite threatening to overrun their hosts in the early stages, the Gunners were pegged back by a Graham Alexander penalty after Thomas Vermaelen fouled Andre Bikey.
Wenger added: "I wouldn’t have been pleased with four points from the two game because I always want to win. We expected to drop two points at Liverpool more than here but football is like that. Burnley had a very good game, there wasn’t one moment when they lost focus and they are very suited to playing against teams that make the game. I’ve seen them playing against teams at home and when they have to make the game it’s a completely different team but they’re well organised against a team that takes the game to them.
"Fabregas is injured. For how long I don’t know. He will not play on Saturday. It’s a hamstring problem."
Burnley manager Owen Coyle believes this result can give his side the confidence to go on and secure their Premier League status at the first time of asking and refused to condemn McCarthy ahead of Burnley’s game with Wolves this weekend.
He said: "Mick McCarthy is an outstanding manager and someone I’ve got a lot of time for.
"He’s done a fantastic job at Wolves and does what he sees fit for Wolverhampton. He’s made that decision and believes he has a squad capable of wearing the Wolverhampton shirt. We have to make sure we’re ready for Sunday and give it our best.
"My lads gave me everything and if we can keep maintaining these levels of performance then we will continue to get points in this league and this will go a long way towards keeping us in it. There are two or three players in the Arsenal side who could play for any side in world football, but we stood toe to toe with them. We had some big performances and this is what we need to keep doing. I’m delighted with them."