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Page last updated at 20:43 GMT, Sunday, 20 February 2011

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger worried by fixture list

Jonathan Tehoue celebrates Leyton orient's equaliser with Theo ther mascot
Wenger had little to cheer at full-time, unlike Orient scorer Jonathan Tehoue

Arsene Wenger admitted that Arsenal could do with a "breather" after Leyton Orient forced an FA Cup replay that added to his side's fixture congestion.

Tomas Rosicky struck after the break for Arsenal but they were pegged back when Jonathan Tehoue scored for League One side Orient in the 89th minute.

"Since December, we've played every three days," said the Arsenal boss.

"So sometimes to have a week where we could give the players a little breather would not be bad."

The Gunners, who made 10 changes to the side that beat Barcelona in midweek, have already played 42 times this season and must now turn their attentions to five games in a 14-day spell that could shape their season as they look to maintain a challenge on four fronts.

Currently second in the Premier League, they host Stoke City on Wednesday then play Birmingham in the Carling Cup final on 27 February before playing a replay against Orient on 2 March, league game against Sunderland on 5 March and then second leg of their Champions League tie with Barcelona three days later.

If Arsenal were to win the replay they would then face a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United on the weekend of 12/13 March, the Premier League's top two drawn to face each other a day after Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson suggested English football should follow Germany's Bundesliga by incorporating a month-long winter break.

However Wenger, while concerned by the growing fixture list, expressed himself satisfied with the performance against a side 11th in League One.

"We have played the game with the right attitude and could not fault our fighting spirit but you also have to give credit to Leyton Orient because they never gave up and fought very hard," added the Frenchman.

"As long as you do not score the second goal, that can happen.

"Overall it is a disappointment but we are still in the competition and will now play at home.

"The most important thing is to go through.

"You had a match against a team which is technically superior but fighting spirit has a chance.

"We have had problems in the cups against teams from the lower divisions to finish them off, but also we have given a lot."

And while a replay may have been the last thing Wenger wanted, Orient insisted it was a fair reward for the effort they put into the tie.

"We didn't play our best football and I was disappointed we kept turning the ball over," manager Russell Slade said.

"I thought we were going to lose with a bit of dignity but the equaliser was reward not just for today - that's our seventh game in the FA Cup. We nearly went out in the first round, but to hang in there... it's the same in the league, it's one defeat in 21. You have to be happy with that."

And on his super-sub Tehoue, he said: "I just said to myself 'gaffer, you have got the substitution right again'.

"We have got four, five, six players on the bench who can make a difference."

The result will also have strengthened chairman Barry Hearn's view that the competition format is sacrosanct.

Speaking ahead of the match, he told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek: "The competition throws up drama by its sheer design.

"That is one of the reasons why the Football Association must never change it. Thoughts of seeding, thoughts of abandoning replays are sheer lunacy."

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see also
Orient Cup heroes set for Vegas
21 Feb 11 |  Leyton Orient
Leyton Orient 1-1 Arsenal
20 Feb 11 |  FA Cup
Ferguson angry over ticket prices
20 Feb 11 |  Man Utd
Hearn defends FA Cup traditions
20 Feb 11 |  FA Cup
Man Utd to face Arsenal in FA Cup
02 Mar 11 |  FA Cup
Sunday football as it happened
20 Feb 11 |  Football
Sunday's football photos
20 Feb 11 |  Football


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