Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce has criticised the Premier League for scheduling a round of fixtures just days after clubs compete in the third round of the FA Cup.
The Black Cats will begin their cup campaign with a daunting trip to the Emirates Stadium to take on defending champions Arsenal on Saturday before they face Swansea in a crucial Premier League relegation battle the following Wednesday.
The two fixtures come quickly on the back of a busy festive schedule that saw the north-east club play three games in just seven days and Allardyce has slammed the Premier League for adding more strain to such a hectic period.
He said: “Why put one in there? We’ve got the rest of the season after that and we’ve just done six games in 24 days. We’re flogging the lads.”
The 61-year-old also believes that the English top flight are devaluing the FA Cup, as he and other managers will be forced to rest players ahead of a potentially pivotal set of league fixtures.
Allardyce added: “If you want us to respect the FA Cup then you don’t put a Premier League fixture there, do you?
“So don’t be giving me stick when I change the side, when the Premier League have put a fixture midweek. Give the Premier League stick, not the managers.”
Sunderland have twice made it to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in the last four seasons, but they face a daunting task in reaching that stage once again as they prepare to take on the competition’s most successful ever team.
The Black Cats are available at 12.00 to spring a surprise on Saturday, whilst the Gunners are on offer at 1.22 and the draw is priced at 6.00.