The major FA decision that could affect Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham in 2021/22

The FA have made the decision to reintroduce FA Cup replays for the 2021/22 edition of the competition.

Omitted from the football calendar for the previous season due to the hugely condensed fixture list as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, they are set to return.

Reports from The Independent, as per the PA news agency, first suggested the Football Association had made the decision to reintroduce replays up to and including the fourth round of the competition, news which has been confirmed.

A statement from The FA read: “Replays will be mandatory in all rounds of the qualifying competition and the competition proper from the first round proper up to and including the fourth round proper.”

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The decision could have a major bearing on the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur for next season.

Traditionally earning a bye into the third round of the FA Cup, it means that each club could potentially play an extra two matches throughout the season.

Coupled with the decision for the Carabao Cup semi-finals to be contested over its traditional two-legged format, it is a stark return to normality for the new competitions.

Ironically, should the decision have been taken last season, Arsenal would have already been affected.

Heading into the 2020/21 FA Cup, Mikel Arteta’s men were holders of the trophy but it took extra-time for them to squeeze past fellow Premier League rivals Newcastle United 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium in the third round.

Goals came from Emile Smith Rowe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but in the competition’s original format, the meeting would instead have been decided via a replay at St James’ Park.

In the end, the Gunners ended up falling to defeat in the next round anyway as semi-finalists Southampton secured victory at St Mary’s via a Gabriel own goal.

The decision to reintroduce replays could potentially impact Chelsea and Spurs the most this season as they also attempt to navigate European commitments in both the Champions League and Europa Conference League respectively.

Meanwhile, the Gunners’ calendar is drastically lighter throughout the next campaign having missed out on European football.

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