Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger criticises 'horrendous' schedule
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has blamed a "horrendous" fixture list for a recent run of four games without a win.
Wenger's side ended that sequence - and returned to the top of the Premier League - by coming from a goal down to win 3-1 at West Ham on Boxing Day.
But the manager criticised a schedule of six matches in 23 days.
"It has been a difficult period but mainly down to our schedule," Wenger said. "I completely think our schedule has been absolutely horrendous."
Arsenal began December with a 2-0 Premier League victory over Hull, but their title challenge stuttered after that as they collected two points from three matches, losing 6-3 at Manchester City in between home draws against Everton and Chelsea.
Their winless run also included a 2-0 defeat away to Napoli in their final Champions League Group F match, although Wenger's side still qualified for the knockout stages despite that result.
Earlier this month, Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta questioned the decision to schedule the league game at Manchester City for a Saturday lunchtime, arguing that it gave the players little time to recover from facing Napoli on the previous Wednesday night.
Wenger suggested that the effect of a busy schedule on his team's results had also impacted on their confidence.
He said: "When you do not win for four games, it's important to come back and for your confidence level to win.
"If we had not won (at West Ham), we would have had to answer many questions. It was the kind of game many people would have questioned us had we not won and especially if we lost."
Arsenal face a seventh game in 26 days when they travel to Newcastle in the Premier League on Sunday.