REUTERS – Premier League’s “diabolical” fixtures are devaluing the FA Cup by forcing managers to field weakened teams in the knockout competition, Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce has said.
Fresh from last weekend’s 3-1 league win over Aston Villa, the Black Cats have played four games in 15 days during the festive period and now face three away matches in seven days.
“Of course I’m going to make changes for our Cup tie at Arsenal on Saturday,” Allardyce told British media. “If the Premier League decides to put a stupid fixture midweek when they don’t bloody need to, then I haven’t got much choice.
“It’s diabolical. We’re flogging the lads. There are more and more injuries every year but it’s completely ignored by the Premier League. It’s unbelievable.
“If you want us to respect the FA Cup, don’t put Premier League fixtures in the midweek just after new year. Don’t give me stick when I change the side at Arsenal. Give the Premier League stick, not the managers.”
After Saturday’s game against the Gunners, Sunderland, who are second from bottom in the table, travel to take on 17th-placed Swansea City and Tottenham Hotspur in the league.
Allardyce said he felt the league’s decision to move the clash with the Swans from Jan. 12 to the following day could jeopardise his side’s survival chances.
“Swansea probably won’t play their best team at Oxford, they’re likely to make changes. But I’m not annoyed with Swansea, I’m annoyed with the Premier League,” Allardyce said.
“With having three away games in succession we’ve got around 2,000 miles of travel and the lunchtime kick-off means we’ve less than three days recovery for Tottenham.”
(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)