Arsenal's Arsene Wenger slams 'cruel' scheduling after win
LONDON -- Arsene Wenger has hit out Arsenal's "cruel" scheduling this week, saying Monday night's game against West Brom will force him to leave many players at home for Thursday's Europa League trip to Belarus.
Arsenal maintained their perfect home record this season by beating West Brom 2-0 after a double from Alexandre Lacazette. But Wenger was unhappy his side had not been scheduled to play during the weekend instead, given they play at BATE Borisov on Thursday evening and then have a noon kickoff next Sunday against Brighton.
"At the moment I will say the schedule for us is a bit cruel," Wenger told a news conference. "When you look at the [Premier League] schedule over the weekend, I think there was some room for us to be different.
"For example, yesterday we had Brighton-Newcastle on television. They could have played tonight and we could have played yesterday. So for us the time is very short. But television decides, and I don't complain about that. But what I want to say, for the [team] selection it has an impact for me."
Wenger said he will travel to Borisov "with a team of senior players, and certainly with a young bench" as they look for a second straight group-stage win.
Wenger also praised Lacazette for his overall performance on a night when the French striker became the first Gunner to score in each of his first three home Premier League games.
Lacazette headed home a rebound in the first half and added a penalty after the break to take his league tally to four goals in six games.
"He's not only a goalscorer, his link-up play is good, he fights as well, he's not fazed by the physical challenges that West Brom gave us today," Wenger said. "And overall he looks to adapt very quickly and very well."
West Brom were aggrieved they didn't get a penalty as well early in the first half when Shkodran Mustafi tripped Jay Rodriguez in the area with the score still 0-0. Rodriguez popped right back up and hit the post with his ensuing shot, as referee Bobby Madley chose to play the advantage.
Wenger, though, conceded that Madley could have chosen to give a penalty.
"The referee left the advantage, and they nearly scored from that," Wenger said. "I think the decision is defendable on both sides. If he gives the penalty and doesn't give the advantage and they miss the penalty, you say why did he not leave the advantage? It's that kind of situation."
Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsey told Sky Sports Premier League he was pleased with the display from the Gunners.
He said: "It was a fantastic performance from us tonight.
"After all of the results -- none of them went our way at the weekend -- we had to take advantage of the fact we were at home and we managed to do that.
"You're hoping one or two of them might drop points but they're very strong this season. It's going to be a tough year.
"There's a lot of quality from all of those teams so it was important for us to get the win tonight.''
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.