• Premier League

Arsenal can't stomach lunchtime kick-offs, says Mertesacker

ESPN staff
March 24, 2014
Per Mertesacker has suggested Arsenal should apply to the FA in order not to play away from home at lunchtime © Getty Images

Per Mertsesacker has blamed Arsenal's capitulation to Chelsea on Saturday on the early kick-off time.

Arsenal were dispatched 6-0 at Stamford Bridge in their latest title setback.

The Chelsea humiliation was their worst of the season - and equalled their biggest losing margin in Arsene Wenger's reign - after a 5-1 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield in February and a 6-3 hammering at Manchester City last December, both of which kicked off at lunchtime.

Wenger's special day - to forget

Mertesacker admitted that starting early, particularly away from home, has proved an Achilles heel for Arsene Wenger's side.

"I don't know why, but it looks like we don't fancy early kick-offs away," Mertesacker said. "It looks like we are going to have to apply to the FA to not play at 12.45 away. That would help us a lot.

"We wanted to start very strong and show people we are good enough, but they scored the two very early goals. We lost some balls when we tried to keep it desperately. They then caught us on the counter-attack. We tried to avoid that. But we missed it completely.

"There was not much difference before the red card, but afterwards it was even harder to come back, especially when it goes to 3-0 and 10 men so early."

The early start also proved a nightmare for referee Andre Marriner, who mistakenly sent off Kieran Gibbs instead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Arsenal winger reportedly told Marriner twice that he had sent off the wrong player.

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