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Cup for it

Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United will be offered the chance to play one-off early FA Cup matches to avoid a New Year fixtures pile-up.

Wembley chiefs are ready to agree to scrap some FA Cup third and fourth-round replays to ease this season’s match congestion.

While the vast majority of ties will still have second matches if required, teams in the Champions League and Europa League will be offered the option of settling ties on the day.

FA bosses recognise that the issues of an already-congested season due to the six-week World Cup break have been exacerbated by the postponements caused by The Queen’s passing.

The seven teams in European competitions face nine games next month compared to the six matches scheduled for the other 13 sides.

This month’s 13 postponements mean Arsenal, City, Chelsea, Liverpool and United will head into the second half of the campaign two Prem fixtures behind schedule and facing potentially playing 42 matches between Boxing Day and the end of the season.

That potential backlog will see FA chiefs agree to giving them dispensation to settle some ties on the day rather than face extra matches

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