FA Cup rule change that Man Utd, Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool will be thankful for

Premier League title race: Man City stretch lead at top

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Premier League clubs will enter the FA Cup Third Round this weekend with the comfort of knowing a potential replay is off the cards. The FA have removed replays from the competition for a second successive season to help combat growing fixture congestion caused by Covid.

In December, a statement announced replays have once again been scrapped in third and fourth-round ties this season.

It read: “We can today confirm that replays have been removed in both the third and fourth rounds of the 2021-22 Emirates FA Cup.

“This exceptional decision was approved by the FA Board on Friday December 17, and has been taken in the wider interest of English football to alleviate the possibility of fixture congestion following several postponements in recent days and continued uncertainty ahead due to Covid-19.

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“Ties in the third and fourth rounds of this season’s competition will be played to a finish on the day, with extra-time and penalty shootouts if required.

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“Replays will return up to and including the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup from the 2022-23 season onwards.”

As of January 7, the Premier League has called off 17 games due to Covid-related absences at different clubs.

Other competitions like the Carabao Cup have also been affected, with Liverpool and Arsenal’s semi-final first leg on Thursday postponed.

It comes as a blow for lower league clubs because of the interest and revenue naturally generated by a home clash against top-flight opposition.

But Premier League outfits will be thankful to avoid unnecessary extra games in the current Covid-ravaged climate.

Especially with the Champions League knockout stages around the corner, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United, in particular, will be delighted with the news.

Man City kick start the FA Cup weekend at Swindon Town on Friday night before Leicester City begin the defence of their crown against Watford on Saturday afternoon.

Though Pep Guardiola won’t be in the dugout after he and several other first-team players and members of staff tested positive for Covid.

Meanwhile, Chelsea, who lost last season’s final against Leicester thanks to Youri Tieleman’s howitzer at Wembley, will be in action on Saturday evening, hosting Chesterfield at Stamford Bridge.

On Sunday, Liverpool host Shrewsbury Town, Tottenham Hotspur host Morecambe, and record holders Arsenal travel to Nottingham Forest.

Steven Gerrard takes his Aston Villa side to Old Trafford to face 12-time winners United on Monday night, rounding off the weekend’s action.

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