Well, here we are, in the “festive period”, when football matches are shoved down our throats faster than donuts down Homer Simpson’s throat in that episode where Ned Flanders is the devil. Aaron talked a bit about the schedule congestion and resulting squad options in his preview, and I’ll just add that while I do like the Premier League, I detest the holiday stretch.
England does this whole overscheduling thing because it’s tradition, but sometimes, traditions aren’t worth keeping around. There’s no earthly reason Arsenal need to play a Sunday-Tuesday-Friday-Tuesday-Sunday-Tuesday schedule between now and Jan 1, or any other team for that matter. The more tired you make your players, the more you expose them to the risk of injury, and while I haven’t done the research on this yet, I would bet there’s a fairly strong chance that England grinding its players to a nub in late December has an effect on their Champions League knockout round performance, as they face teams that are fresh off a winter break and fully recharged for the second half of the season.
But anyway, here we are, playing West Ham in a game that nobody probably cares about all that much in a competition that definitely ranks last on most people’s lists, so hurray? Anyway, I want Arsenal to win, as I always do, but if they lose in this game it’s not the end of the world. I mostly want them to stay healthy, and to give some kids some playing time.
WHAT: Arsenal vs. West Ham
WHERE: The Emirates, London
WHEN: Tuesday, December 19th 11:45 PT | 2:45 ET | 7:45 BST
US TV: Not televised. Streaming on ESPN 3 and the WatchESPN app.
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