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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta fears FA Cup replays could wreck the winter break 

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'They are prioritising fixtures over the safety of players': Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta fears FA Cup replays could wreck the winter breakPremier League clubs are due to benefit from a two-week, mid-season breakThe 'player break’ followed talks between the FA, Premier League and EFLBut the rest period could be interrupted by FA Cup fourth-round replays

Mikel Arteta has accused the football authorities of prioritising fixtures over the safety of players.

Premier League clubs are due to benefit from a two-week, mid-season break for the first time next month. The rest period was announced last summer following talks between the FA, Premier League and EFL. 

However, despite it being described as a ‘player break’, Premier League stars will see it interrupted if their club is involved in an FA Cup fourth-round replay.

Mikel Arteta has accused the football authorities of prioritising fixtures over safety of players

Arsenal will be back in action just days into their break if they fail to win at Bournemouth in the next round of the Cup.

Replays are due to take place in the week commencing Monday February 3, during a fortnight’s gap in Arsenal’s fixture list.

Manager Arteta said: ‘We know where the priorities are with the fixtures, and the priority at the moment is not to protect the players and have everybody with the same condition.’

The prospect of a replay is also one of the factors impacting Arteta’s plans for a mid-season warm-weather training camp for his players. Arteta would like to take his players away but also use the opportunity to give them some time off to spend with their families. A replay will scupper those plans.

Arsenal will have to cope without 16-goal captain and striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Another factor is the security concerns associated with travelling to the Middle East. Manchester United have already scrapped a proposed trip to Doha due to the escalating tensions between Iran and the USA.

Dubai, where they went last season during March’s international break, was the destination of choice for Emirates-sponsored Arsenal. Arteta’s homeland of Spain is an alternative.

Arteta said: ‘We talked about different options in this break to go away and live together a bit in a different environment with better weather. We still have a few things to look after from a club perspective.

‘But at the moment we have two or three different options. The security decision will be the priority. If we are advised by the club that it’s not safe we won’t be going anywhere.

‘If we get two weeks it’ll be brilliant. If we have to play a replay obviously we know we’re not going to have that so we have to adapt.’

Arsenal will have to cope without 16-goal captain and striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after their appeal to the FA to have his three-game ban reduced was unsuccessful.

Aubameyang, sent off against Crystal Palace, will now miss Arsenal’s league games against Sheffield United and Chelsea, and Bournemouth in the Cup.

 

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