Arsenal Faces Fixture Congestion After F.A. Cup `Disappointment' at Orient

Arsenal faces an F.A. Cup replay after being denied victory at third-tier Leyton Orient on a late goal, adding to a fixture pileup as the Gunners chase four trophies.

Jonathan Tehoue tied the game after 89 minutes yesterday at Orient’s Brisbane Road stadium in London, maintaining the League One club’s chances of a quarterfinal at Manchester United. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose team’s last trophy was the F.A. Cup in 2005, said his team need “a breather.”

“The most negative side of our result is one more fixture and in fairness that is not what we needed,” Wenger told ESPN. “Overall it is a disappointment, but we are still in the competition and will now play at home.”

Bolton secured its spot in the last eight of English soccer’s oldest knockout competition with a 1-0 win at Fulham, while Manchester City overpowered Notts County 5-0 in a fourth- round replay.

Arsenal appeared in control against Orient after Tomas Rosicky’s 53rd-minute goal for the Gunners, who are looking to tie Manchester United’s record of 11 F.A. Cup titles.

Instead, the north London team has to fit a replay into a schedule that already includes the Feb. 27 League Cup final against Birmingham and the second leg of its Champions League last-16 matchup with Barcelona on March 8. Arsenal leads 2-1 from the first game.

The Gunners also remain in contention for the Premier League and trail leader United by four points.

‘Breather’

“What people forget is that since the beginning of December we have played every three days, so sometimes to have a week where we could give the players a little breather would not be bad,” Wenger said.

Wenger made a raft of changes yesterday, with only Alex Song retaining his place from the team that beat Barcelona four days earlier. Ignasi Miquel, 18, made his debut in defense.

The Gunners dominated possession, though wayward shooting left the match scoreless at halftime.

Eight minutes after halftime Arsenal got the breakthrough when Rosicky hit his first goal in 13 months. The Czech midfielder glanced the ball into the net after being set up by Nicklas Bendtner.

With time running out, substitute Tehoue broke clear and fired a low shot past Manuel Almunia to earn his team a replay.

“This is the magic of football,” Tehoue told ESPN. “You have to keep the belief.”

Ivan Klasnic scored in the F.A. Cup for the second time in five days to secure Bolton’s progress in the competition against Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Zamora Returns

Fulham lost even though the team was boosted by the return of striker Bobby Zamora as a substitute after five months out with a broken leg.

At the City of Manchester Stadium, Patrick Vieira got two goals for Manchester City to help oust League One Notts County. Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko and Micah Richards also scored.

City is aiming to win its first major title since the League Cup in 1976. It has claimed the F.A. Cup four times, and is a four-time runner-up.

Two days ago, Manchester United beat non-league Crawley Town 1-0, Birmingham defeated Sheffield Wednesday 3-0, and Stoke won 3-0 against Brighton. Everton defeated defending champion Chelsea in a penalty shootout in a fourth-round replay. West Ham hosts Burnley today.

Birmingham will play Bolton in the next round, Manchester City or Aston Villa will be at home against Everton or Reading, and the winner of today’s game is set to play at Stoke.

     F.A. CUP QUARTERFINAL DRAW
     ==========================
     Stoke City                   vs   West Ham/Burnley
     Manchester City/Aston Villa  vs   Everton/Reading
     Birmingham City              vs   Bolton
     Manchester United            vs   Leyton Orient/Arsenal

     Matches to be played over the March 12/13 weekend.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Cone in London at jcone@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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