Lambert: Fixture favours Chelsea
Paul Lambert has accused the Premier League of giving preferential treatment to Chelsea and Jose Mourinho over the fixture re-scheduling which the Aston Villa manager believes has resulted in his club's toughest ever start to the season.
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Villa have been ordered to travel to Stamford Bridge and face Mourinho on August 21, which means they will take on Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool in the first week of the new campaign.
The fixture has been moved forward because the original date clashed with Chelsea’s UEFA Super Cup game against Bayern Munich and now means Mourinho will have two home games against Hull City and Villa before travelling to face Manchester United five days later.
Lambert suspects the Premier League board, which has ruled on the issue, may have acted in support of Mourinho, despite Villa trying to push the fixture back to next month, or October.
"I am disappointed with this. I don't think it is fair. I gave them five dates to choose from," said Lambert.
"Then we get jammed in between Arsenal and Liverpool. I have been given 45 different explanations and I am still not sure whether any of them are correct.
"I just don't get it. Is it big club syndrome, I don't know. It would be interesting to see what happened the other way around.
"I would just like to know if the club have had a tougher start to the Premier League season than this one."
Three wins from these games will leave Chelsea with at least a six-point lead over the champions and give Mourinho a psychological boost over new United boss David Moyes.
Villa were less keen to move the game forward to avoid having such a testing start to the new campaign, but the Premier League did not want to postpone the game indefinitely when a free date was available.
Both clubs were consulted but the final decision came down to the Premier League board.