AW: Prem strength to blame for CL woes
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes English clubs have paid a high price in Europe this season for the success of the Premier League. The Gunners chief disagrees with England manager Fabio Capello, who put the early demise of Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal in the Champions League down to the lack of spending in the summer. Instead Wenger, who takes his side to Wigan on Sunday having virtually conceded the title for another season after Wednesday's defeat against Tottenham, said: "The competition in the Premier League has become much harder and the big teams in the Premier League paid for that in the Champions League. "You cannot afford any more, against anybody in England, to rest your players before a Champions League match. The physical demands in the Premier League are just so high that you go into the Champions League in March and April having lost your best players or already having exhausted them. "The Premier League is too demanding. What other leagues can do, we cannot afford to do. I do not believe at all that the Premier League has become weaker. "It was an exception from us because we played against a stronger team (Barcelona) and you have to accept that. They were better than us but under normal circumstances Manchester United would have gone through and Chelsea as well." Wenger insists he can keep his young side together for another crack at the Premier League title next season and dismissed the speculation surrounding captain Cesc Fabregas and a potential move to Barcelona. The Frenchman said: "We have not been in touch with Barcelona over the future (of Fabregas). We have an official dinner before every European Cup game and of course there is a lot of talk but there is no official meeting about Cesc Fabregas. "We do not want to sell our players and anyway I cannot see anybody who has a competitive edge going to Spain. "They have two good teams (Barcelona and Real Madrid), I confess that. The number three (Valencia) is 24 points behind. "It is a league that is in complete disarray. If you are really competitive, you stay in England. That is where the competition is and that is where the best players want to be." Arsenal go to Wigan tomorrow, where striker Robin van Persie could start for the first time in five months if he recovers from "tight muscles" following his return as a substitute against Tottenham in midweek.
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