Mikel Arteta has urged the Premier League and broadcasters to ‘protect the players’ following an increase in injuries amid a congested fixture schedule.
Arteta has become the latest Premier League manager to voice their concerns over player welfare, with cases of muscle injuries having risen amid a lack of turnaround between fixtures this season.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic – which saw the conclusion of last season played throughout the summer months – means the current campaign has been condensed into a shorter period and has led to a number of leading figures raising their concerns over player welfare.
Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Chelsea’s Frank Lampard are two of the notable names to have criticised the fixture scheduling in recent weeks, and Arteta has joined his contemporaries in urging for increased protection for players.
“It’s never been done before to play the amount of games we have to play in a calendar year in the history of football,” the Arsenal boss said at his pre-match press conference ahead of this weekend’s trip to Leeds.
“We know the consequences of that. The only thing from my side that I would demand to the Premier League and to the broadcasters is, ‘let’s protect the players’.
“At the end of the day this industry, we can do it without us being together in a room (media/press conferences), we have been doing training individually.
“Even without the fans but guys we need the players. We have to protect them as much as possible.
“They are the protagonists of this whole industry and whatever you can do we have to modify the rules and make them a little bit more flexible for them to get them fit and mentally as well. Let’s just do it please.”
One point of discussion has been the potential reintroduction of five substitutes for Premier League fixtures, a rule change that was introduced following the league’s restart in June but later voted against ahead of the new season.
Premier League clubs voted in majority against the continuation of allowing five substitutes, with several sides stating their belief it favoured the larger clubs with deeper squads.
The rising number of injuries have prompted a rethink with club officials having met this week and Arteta has backed a u-turn on the decision and reintroduction of additional replacements from the bench.
“I am all for it and extending the numbers of the squad. Lets try to help them and make them involved. There are easy decisions. Its my opinion and lets hope we can change it.”