Chelsea look set to give the football authorities a real headache over the date for the FA cup replay with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. The FA will be desperately hoping that the Blues fail to overcome the 1-0 first leg deficit against Steaua Bucharest on Thursday. If Chelsea exit the Europa League, it will free up two possible midweeks that would have been used for the European quarter-finals.
If those first two weeks in April are not free, there is a serious problem about when to play the replay. The options would be to postpone the Premier League matches one weekend, or for Chelsea to play at the start of a week when the European games are on.
The weekend of the 31st, we are due to play Southampton and it is to be televised, as is the United game against Sunderland. The TV companies will not be keen to rearrange their schedules, and they have a great deal of influence. The following weekend is supposed to see the Manchester derby, and postponing that might be the only sensible option.
With the Community shield, the Super Cup, Club World cup and the replays, Chelsea will have played lots more games than their rivals. Let’s hope that does not affect us too badly towards the end of the season.