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Arsenal have questions to address


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Mou: Prem hurts clubs' European hopes

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho believes England's top clubs are being handicapped in the Champions League by the illogical scheduling of Premier League matches.

While many national associations strive to aide their clubs when they are preparing for high-profile European games, England's elite are often handed fixture dates and times that appear to hand their rivals an advantage in the Champions League.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho says English teams' Champions League hopes are hampered by the Premier League's inflexible schedule.

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Now Mourinho has called on the Premier League's decision makers to change their mentality and hand their clubs more advantages in a bid to bolster European ambitions that have been floundering in the last couple of seasons.

"Do people not care that English teams are struggling in Europe?" asked the Chelsea boss. "Why don't they? I care. Television deserves to be powerful because, without them, nothing would be the same, but there is space in the calendar that could be filled with communication.

"They should ask the players if it's the same, having two or three days to prepare. Ask [Didier] Drogba on Monday: is it the same for him to play on Friday ahead of the trip to London, or on Saturday with the game coming up on Tuesday?

"I don’t understand why Galatasaray can play on Friday [this week] and we have to play on Saturday. If we played at 7:45 p.m. on a Friday night, it makes a difference to whom?

"Fewer spectators at Villa Park? I don't think so. It'd still be a full-house and for television? It wouldn't make a difference. It would be the only match, so the [ratings] share would be fantastic.

"Would it be good for English football and for Chelsea? Yes, but I'm trying to get this for all of us, not just for me. For example, I don't understand why Manchester City, a team who must come from Europe on Wednesday night, must play at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday.

"Why did they have to play Wigan [in the FA Cup quarter-final] on Sunday when Barcelona had played Saturday and had the extra day [for Wednesday’s game between the sides]?

"If we must all play on Saturday, why not play us at 12.45pm and them at 5.30pm? We have an extra 'day’ to recover, and so would they. I think everyone would agree on that but there is something in this country that goes outside my understanding. I don't understand."

No Premier League team progressed to the quarter-finals of last season's Champions League and there is a danger the same scenario could transpire as after Arsenal and Manchester City went out of the competition earlier this week, with Chelsea and Manchester United facing tricky second-leg last-16 ties against Galatasaray and Olympiakos next week."


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