By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger believes Manchester United benefited from their last trip to the World Club Championship. The Frenchman is not so sure they will this time.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side were exempted from the FA Cup in 1999/2000 and did not play a domestic fixture for 27 days when they travelled to Brazil for the FIFA tournament in January of that campaign. United came back from South America after three low-key matches and cruised to the Premier League title by 18 points.
This season could be different. The champions head to Japan later this month for a maximum of two fixtures but they are sandwiched in between two tough Premier League trips to Tottenham on December 13 and Stoke on Boxing Day. In Wenger's opinion that is a far tougher schedule than 2000, but the Frenchman believes United have the squad to cope.
"This time they are under a much more difficult schedule than in 1999/2000," said Wenger.
"It was Brazil and there were very special circumstance because they were exempted from the FA Cup. They came back and had 10 days rest on top of the rest they had in Brazil, because the games had no meaning at all.
"They had, in fact, the last time, a winter break when the rest of the league had no winter break. Because of not playing in the FA Cup they had an artificial winter break.
"But I don’t know if it will be an advantage this time. They have one advantage in that they have a massive squad. Look at the game against Blackburn the other night. They still had Nani, Anderson, Tevez, in maybe the reserve team.
"They have a much bigger squad now but I also recognise this time they have a much busier schedule than everybody else in the league. But I would love to go to Japan."Copyright 2013 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 5 Dec 2008