Cardiff replay worries Wenger

Arsene Wenger admits he is concerned at the prospect of a fixture backlog after Arsenal were held to a goalless draw in the fourth round of the FA Cup by Cardiff.

The north Londoners have seen their resources dangerously stretched by a spate of injuries to key attacking players such as Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky, Theo Walcott and Eduardo da Silva, and the prospect of shoe-horning another game into an an already-crowded schedule drew a downbeat response from Wenger after Sunday's stalemate here at Ninian Park.

"We could do without it, of course," the Arsenal manager said. "But let's not complain because we play football.

"It's one more game to play. If that's the price we have to pay to stay in the hat, we're happy to do it," added Wenger, whose team - if they see off Cardiff - will face either Premier League strugglers West Brom or another second-tier side in Burnley in the last 16.

"We are very short at the moment and cannot rotate very much," the Frenchman added. "I could rest a few players against Cardiff but not as many as I'd wanted. I'd planned to take Robin van Persie off, but it didn't work that way."

Arsenal may now face a rush of four games in the space of 10 days - three Premier League matches and the replay with City - but, for Wenger, even that is a more palatable prospect than being dumped out of the FA Cup for the first time by lower league opponents. That appeared a realistic proposition in the first half which saw Cardiff's Ross McCormack twice miss good chances, with a poor header from 12 yards in the 11th minute and a shot that went wide after he'd sprung Arsenal's offside trap.

Arsenal responded well after the interval - van Persie saw a free-kick curl just wide and a low near-post shot blocked by Peter Enckleman, while Emmanuel Adebayor fluffed a back-post volley. But Cardiff, beaten in last year's FA Cup final by Portsmouth, were generally comfortable.

I've never put a side out that's not believe they can get something from a game, no matter what.
Cardiff manager Dave Jones on the replay.

The Premier League side's frustrations were encapsulated by Aaron Ramsey, the former Cardiff midfielder, back at his old stamping ground for the first time since his £5 million pounds pre-season move. The teenager endured a wretched afternoon before being hauled off by Wenger in a substitution that was virtually an act of mercy.

"It's always tricky to come back to your home town the first time," Wenger said. "It was a very emotional day for him, but maybe the occasion got to him a little bit."

The same could not be said for Cardiff, who coped with the occasion admirably and came agonisingly close to a famous winner in the dying seconds, when McCormack's free-kick clipped the top of the crossbar. Manager Dave Jones, unhappy at the response of a handful of Cardiff fans, who booed Joe Ledley when he chose to run the ball towards the corner flag rather than cross into the area, insisted the Bluebirds could cause an upset in the replay.

"There were one or two boos in the last minute but we're playing Arsenal - give us a break," he said. "We're at our most vulnerable when we're attacking teams, so that was unfair.

"I've never put a side out that's not believe they can get something from a game, no matter what," Jones added. "We know we're going to the Emirates against a world-class side, so we'll have to match what we did today. But everyone at this club is aspiring to play in that division. What we showed today is that we can match the best."