Wenger: Early kick-offs not a problem for Arsenal

The Gunners boss believes that kick-off times were not to blame for heavy defeats last season as he looks for victory against Manchester City in the opening game of the weekend

Arsene Wenger says early kick-off times are not a problem for Arsenal as his side prepare to take on champions Manchester City at lunchtime on Saturday.

The Gunners suffered heavy midday defeats to Chelsea, City and Liverpool last season, conceding a massive 17 goals against their rivals as their early title challenge faltered.

However, the Frenchman believes the actual kick-off time is not an issue and has urged his side to improve their performances against the top teams.

“I never honestly thought it was the kick-off time that cost us the games,” he told reporters. “It was the performances. The poor performance was not linked with the kick-off times.

“We live in a society where you need to find explanations for everything. Let’s not forget we are competitive people and sometimes when your opponent is better than you, you lose.

“It wouldn’t matter if we played at nine at night or 12:45 – they were better than us. That was not down in my opinion to the kick-off time. Would you rather kick-off at 15:00 or 12:45? It’s two hours and 15 minutes. That does not produce a miracle in your physical recovery.”

Wenger also insisted his side were simply not aggressive enough in matches against their title rivals and left themselves exposed to large defeats after starting slowly.

“Let’s not make a psychological problem of it,” he added. “What is very difficult psychologically is to lose the games. In my job, the most important is always to find the right reasons and I don’t think it was to do with the early kick-off time.

“I think we were beaten last year because we were not aggressive enough in those games. We were not mobile enough and lost too many challenges. As a unit, we were beaten all over the place.

“The history of some of the games went against us as well. We were  2-0 down after 10 minutes. You are always in the position then that you have to take a huge gamble to come back and you open yourself up.”

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