Arsene Wenger suggested that Arsenal were jaded against Aston Villa on Saturday, after the North London derby against Tottenham and a crucial Champions league game against Montpellier. Many Arsenal fans may have seen that as just an excuse and there have been angry reactions to the draw, with lots of blame levelled at the French manager, but if you look around Europe, there is some evidence to back up Wenger’s claim.
Juventus had a vital game against Chelsea in midweek, and were lacklustre in defeat to AC Milan yesterday. Milan had a game in midweek but it was not crucial and so they did not put so much into it. Chelsea also looked tired yesterday as they drew with Manchester City. Mancini claimed that his team had not taken the opportunity presented to them, but they also had a crucial game against Real Madrid in midweek.
Jose Mourinho knew how important it was to avoid defeat against City and his team worked hard to achieve that. Madrid were beaten on Saturday by Real Betis, who had not played in midweek but were thrashed 5-1 by local rivals Seville the previous week. Celtic also lost in the SPL after their hard fought game with Benfica.
There are teams who played in Europe and then won this weekend, but the teams who had vital games, and have depleted squads through injury suffered more than most. I, for one, would rather have beaten Spurs and Montpellier than Aston Villa. I guess that Wenger thought we might have enought beat Paul Lambert’s side anyway, but they played well and conditions did not help. If we beat Everton on Wednesday, we will be back on track.