David O'Leary has again cursed the hectic Christmas programme that has left his Aston Villa side barer even than the 'bare bones' for today's visit of Arsenal.
The Villa manager was already without seven play-ers for Wednesday night's 3-3 draw at Fulham. Now he has last another, left-back Wilfred Bouma, for the meeting with Arsene Wenger's unpredictable outfit.
And, although his side have so far claimed four points out of six from the festive period, O'Leary remains concerned at the Premier-ship's gruelling Yule.
"The rush of games is just too much," he said. "It's scientifically proven that to ask players to play four Premier-ship games in eight days is very hard. And it was certainly to the benefit for those teams who had their games called off in midweek.
"We've so far got a win and a draw, but I'd be saying the same thing even if we go and win our next two.
"The big clubs have no problem as they can juggle their teams around without any trouble. For the likes of us, it is hard.
"It has been arranged to enable England to prepare for the World Cup.
"That's lovely for them. But, if some manager gets sacked in this period as a result of these four games in eight days, he wouldn't be too thrilled.
"It's a joke. But, if you've got to stage the four games in the eight days, then at least we could maybe have played Christmas Eve instead of the Wednesday, then we'd have been playing Saturday, Monday, Saturday, Monday, which might have been more tolerable."
While O'Leary has merely added his weight to an argument that could well see a more enlightened view of next season's Christmas list from the FA, the Villa boss's short-term concern is how to fill today's bench.
"We were already down to the bare bones," he said. "We had no defender left to put in there against Fulham. We had Peter Whittingham on the bench, and the young lad Craig Gardner, and nothing else.
"Now we've lost another in Wilfred Bouma. He came off after a block tackle that has jarred his knee and is out for both games over the weekend.
"It's the same situation with Jlloyd Samuel, Lee Hendrie and Kevin Phillips.
"And although Olof Mellberg is close, he's not done anything for three weeks and we're looking more now at him getting a proper week's training under his belt and bringing him in for the Cup game next Saturday at Hull.
"We were already without Martin Laursen and Patrik Berger and we've also got Uli De La Cruz out with a calf problem. We're almost down to putting the names of Roy Aitken and David O'Leary on the team sheet."
Bit part player De La Cruz's injury has come, ironically, at a time when the Ecuador international has made it clear that, with next summer's World Cup finals in mind, he wants a move that guarantees regular first team football. And O'Leary will not stand in his way - if Villa get an offer.
"His agent came to see us three weeks ago and said the lad wants to play, would we take an offer? I don't want to lose him when I've got such a compact squad.
"But he's a lovely lad, a great pro, his contract runs out at the end of the season, he's got a World Cup coming up and he wants to play for his country.
"And I told them if the boy wants to get away we'd listen to offers. But, as I speak, we haven't had any offers.
"Neither have we for Eric Djemba-Djemba, who hasn't said he wants to leave. And I'd be totally shocked if Juan Pablo Angel went. We're trying to keep numbers here not lose them. But, with Uli, I've also got Mark Delaney and Aaron Hughes to cover his position and that is one maybe you can look at."