The lack of football over the past fortnight has been testing for Manchester United fans. There will be 16 days passing between the previous and next fixtures.
It’s all a prelude to a deluge of football over the next couple of months. The fixtures will be played eventually, and it will be a challenge to fit them all in, and it will also be a test for the managers and players.
So it is welcome news to learn today that FA Cup replays have been cancelled entirely. They were due to be held for just the third and fourth round.
Triple header v Villa avoided
The way the fixtures fall, Manchester United are due for a double header against Aston Villa in the league and cup.
United host Villa in the FA Cup at Old Trafford on January 10, in a 7.55pm kick-off.
The two teams then face off at Villa Park in the Premier League on January 15.
That’s quite enough, without having to squeeze in a replay after the league game if the FA Cup draw ended up in a draw.
Instead the FA Cup game will go to extra time and penalties if it is a draw after 90 minutes, United confirmed.
The additional game against Villa not being a possibility is a boost for both clubs, especially for United, with an extra away trip being avoided.
As it is, the two matches against Villa will be challenging enough. Villa won 1-0 at Old Trafford earlier in the season.
They have since appointed Steven Gerrard as manager and they are in decent form, winning three of their last five games.
Two upcoming matches against them is enough, a third being removed from the equation is welcome, especially while City, Liverpool and Chelsea all face lower league opponents in the FA Cup third round.
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