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Wenger calls for FA Cup to make way

ESPN staff
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Arsene Wenger has won the FA Cup four times © Getty Images
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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger may claim to be a big fan of the FA Cup but he wants ties in the later stages of the competition moved from their traditional weekend slot to give the Premier League priority.

His side face Everton in the quarter-finals on Saturday, with their scheduled league match against Swansea having been moved to March 25, and he is anxious that the title race does not become unbalanced in terms of games played.

"The only thing that I might change is the priority it has over Premier League fixtures," Wenger told The Arsenal Magazine.

"At the moment we postpone games in the Premier League later on in the season when they clash with the FA Cup. That can lead to unfairness in the league season.

"What I would think about is not moving Premier League games to make time for the FA Cup.

"What I would do instead is move the cup game to midweek rather than the league game. I believe that sort of thing would be an interesting change."

Wenger, who has won the FA Cup four times, says teams that have been knocked out in the early stages can gain an advantage by playing in the league when the remaining cup ties are being staged.

Cup games are generally scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays, something which helps raise their profile, although television demands sometimes see them moved.

When they clash with Premier League programmes later in the competition the knock-on effect means games that are moved inevitably take place midweek because of a scarcity of other free dates.

An example could come this weekend when Chelsea have the chance to their lead at the top to of the table to seven points with rivals Arsenal and Manchester City busy playing in the FA Cup.

Wenger, generally, had a lot of praise for the FA Cup, calling it "explosive" and "magic". However, he admitted that the race to finish in the Premier League's top four and secure Champions League qualification had diluted its appeal.

"Maybe it has taken something away," he said. "But I believe the Cup is still something special. I don't think it needs to conflict with the Premier League - you can finish in the top four in the league and win the FA Cup.

"It can conflict with the Champions League programme sometimes, that's true, but overall it's still something special in my mind."

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