Prem fixtures give Hodgson headache
The Football Association and England manager Roy Hodgson have been left frustrated by the scheduling of two high-profile Premier League fixtures immediately before the national team's vital World Cup qualifiers, according to reports.
England, currently second in Group H, face a key double-header of matches early in the 2013-14 campaign as they aim to get their faltering bid for a place at next year's finals in Brazil back on track. They host Moldova at Wembley on Friday, September 6 before travelling to play in Ukraine four days later.
The FA held meetings with the Premier League ahead of Wednesday's announcement of the fixtures in a bid to avoid matches between big clubs being scheduled before international breaks in order to give the England players the best chance of preparing for key fixtures.
However, the weekend of August 31-September 1 will see champions Manchester United take on Liverpool at Anfield and Arsenal play host to local rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
"You wonder what was the point of the meetings," an 'FA insider' is quoted as saying in The Sun. "The Premier League knew what Roy wanted but they clearly weren't bothered."
England's hopes of topping their group, thereby avoiding a play-off, could rest on their final two games. They will host Montenegro - who currently lead the group from England by two points - on October 11, with Poland visiting Wembley four days later. There are no major Premier League fixtures slated in the run-up for those matches.
However, if England do finish second and enter the draw for the play-offs, the first leg of the tie would be played on November 15, six days after United host Arsenal at Old Trafford.