LONDON, England, December 13 – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says that his side cannot let fixture congestion get the better of them as they look to defend their five-point lead in the Premier League.
Arsenal visit title rivals Manchester City in Saturday’s early game, just over two days after returning from a Champions League match away to Napoli.
Midfielder Mikel Arteta said he found it difficult to understand the timing of Saturday’s game, but while Wenger sympathises with the Spaniard, he knows there is nothing that the club can do about it.
“To be completely honest, if you had given me the opportunity to do it, I would not have done it like that, but I do not complain,” said Wenger.
“That is not an excuse for us at all. We have the fixtures we have. It is another opportunity to show we have the mental strength to deal with it.”
He added: “I am convinced we believe in ourselves anyway, no matter what happens.
“Let’s not forget as well that if you are in City’s position and they lose, then they are nine points behind, so they have more negative pressure than we have.
“We have a positive pressure that we can make a big difference with them, so let’s look at it like them. We have an opportunity to go from five (points) to eight; that is fantastic. We have to look at it like that.”
Right-back Bacary Sagna may be fit enough to face City after a hamstring injury, but Wenger says that Lukas Podolski is not yet ready to play after overcoming a hamstring complaint of his own.
“He is available,” Wenger said. “I feel he is still a bit short to go into a match of that level of intensity, but after this weekend I will consider him to be available.”