By Chris Harris

Gael Clichy believes English clubs are handicapped in Europe because they do not have the luxury of a winter break.

The Premier League will not have a representative in the Semi-Finals of the Champions League for the first time in seven years after Arsenal and Manchester United were eliminated from the competition in midweek.

This year’s European champions will come instead from Spain, France, Germany or Italy – countries whose top-flight clubs take a rest at the turn of the year.

Clichy acknowledges that Arsenal were beaten fair and square by an outstanding Barcelona side in their Quarter-Final but he insists that the fatigue factor leaves English clubs at a disadvantage in the latter stages of the season.

“I think it is a blow for English football [not to have a representative in the Champions League] but at the same time we are the only championship in Europe who are not having a rest during Christmas,” Clichy told Arsenal.com.

“I don’t want to hide behind anything but when you are having two weeks off during Christmas you have time to recover, but we are playing game after game every three days and so of course you are going to get injuries.

“If you look at the Barcelona game we had six or seven players out who could have been in the starting XI. That shows you that at the end of the season whether you are Chelsea, Manchester United or Arsenal, English football suffers a little bit because we played so many games.

“We like playing on Boxing Day but it can be difficult.”

Subscribers can watch the full interview with Gael on Arsenal TV Online ahead of the Tottenham game.

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 9 Apr 2010