Stop replays, Wenger urges

LONDON - Arsene Wenger called for the abolition of FA Cup replays after Arsenal were held to a 0-0 draw by dogged Blackburn.

LONDON - Arsene Wenger called for the abolition of FA Cup replays after Arsenal were held to a 0-0 draw by dogged Blackburn.

The stalemate at the Emirates stadium on Saturday means the north Londoners must shoe-horn a fifth round replay, on February 28, into an already bloated fixture list that includes seven matches in the next four weeks.

Wenger has already seen his weary squad negotiate a fourth round replay with Bolton but he fears his players could be overwhelmed by the physical and mental demands of such a gruelling schedule.

He urged the English Football Association to examine the possibility of making all FA Cup ties finish at the first attempt, though his hopes of success are not high.

"There is a lot that can be done to help the problem of games but nobody is willing to do it," he said. "Replays in the FA Cup could be stopped, with penalties being held straight away."

Mark Hughes, the Blackburn manager, immediately suggested such an idea would be unworkable as it would make the possibility of upsets even more remote.

Results: Man Utd 1, Reading 1; Middlesbrough 2, West Brom 2, Chelsea 4, Norwich 0; Watford 1, Ipswich 0; Plymouth 2, Derby 0.

X