Arsene Wenger: Keep FA Cup replays, says Arsenal manager

There is no need to scrap FA Cup replays because every Premier League team has enough players to cope with extra matches, according to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

The future of replays and midweek rounds are among measures being considered to trim the fixture list.

"This is the most traditional competition in England. Let's respect it and keep it as it is," he said.

"I am convinced all of the clubs can compete with the number of games."

Arsenal, who have won the FA Cup for the past two seasons, face Championship side Hull in the fifth round on Saturday, three days before their Champions League first-leg tie with Barcelona.

A draw with Hull would leave the Gunners with a fixture headache.

  • They are due to play Swansea in a Premier League match on Wednesday, 2 March.
  • They have no fixture the following midweek, Tuesday 8 and Wednesday 9 March, but there are Champions League matches on those nights and Uefa rules prevent top-flight sides playing domestic fixtures on the same night as its premier club tournament.
  • The FA Cup sixth round is scheduled to be played on the weekend of 12 March when the Gunners are due to play West Brom.

But despite that potential problem Wenger does not want the competition changed before his 100th match in the cup on Saturday.

Wenger's FA Cup final wins
1998: Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle (Overmars, Anelka)2005: Arsenal 0-0 Man Utd (Arsenal won on penalties)
2002: Arsenal 2-0 Chelsea (Parlour, Ljungberg)2014: Arsenal 3-2 Hull (Cazorla, Koscielny, Ramsey)
2003: Arsenal 1-0 Southampton (Pires)2015: Arsenal 4-0 Aston Villa (Walcott, Sanchez, Mertesacker, Giroud)

"I am now vaccinated against the FA rules after such a long time, I have become very conservatively English," Wenger said.

"Next season we have even more money coming in, so every single club will have 25 top level players. There is no real need for me to change the rules.

"I believe the first game on television I ever saw in France was an FA Cup game. We had no television and we had to go to school where we had a black and white screen and we could watch the FA Cup final.

"At that time I could never imagine I would play 100 FA Cup games. It is a privilege, because 100 is quite a big number and we have done well in the FA Cup most of the time. I want to defend my record."

'It was up in the air'

Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger lifts the 2014 FA Cup after Arsenal's comeback victory over Hull

Saturday will be the third time in as many seasons that Arsenal have faced Hull in the FA Cup, including the 2014 final where Wenger's side came from 2-0 down to win 3-2.

And Wenger hinted that he may have left the club at the end of that season had they not won their first trophy in nine years.

"Honestly, I don't know," said Wenger when asked about his job if Arsenal had failed to win.

"It was up in the air and we had to give everything to win that final," he added.

"It would have been a problem if we had not won. It would have been a massive disappointment for everyone, but we won.

"Usually I respect my contracts and I fight for everything. I think as well to say to you that if 17 years at a club depend on one cup final, it is better you don't go to the final."

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