By Chris Wright
Whilst admitting that a win (and hence, no fixture-clogging replay) would have been nice, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was full of praise for Leyton Orient’s ‘fighting spirit’ after Jonathan Tehoue’s 89th-minute equaliser (Tomas Rosicky headed the Gunners in front just after half-time) ensured that the League One side forced an FA Cup fifth-round replay by snatching a last-gasp 1-1 draw at Brisbane Road.
“We have played the game with the right attitude and could not fault our fighting spirit, but you also have to give credit to Leyton Orient because they never gave up and fought very hard.
“We are still in the competition and will now play at home. They had a match against a team which is technically superior, but fighting spirit always has a chance.”
Wenger also conceded that, whilst an additional game is far from ideal for the Gunners, he does not begrudge Orient anything after earning themselves a lucrative replay:
“The most negative side of our result today is one more fixture and in fairness that is not what we needed. Sometimes, mentally, a little breather would not be bad.
“It will make [Orient’s] budget for the season, if not more, and to scrap that off would be a blow to all the smaller clubs in England. They suffer already, so you would not have a lot of supporters of [scrapping replays].”
Orient chairman Barry Hearn has since vowed to whisk his players away to Las Vegas at the end of the season as a reward for holding Arsenal, telling BBC Sport:
“The end of May or in June would be nice to get three or four days away in Vegas. I wanted to go on Sunday night but apparently we have got Huddersfield away on Saturday and the manager said we had to be professional!”
Should Arsenal win their replay against Orient on March 2nd, they will then have to play six games in four different competitions over the subsequent 18 days – culminating in a FA Cup quarter-final at Manchester United at the end of the week in which they will have squared off against Barcelona in the Champions League at the Camp Nou.
Safe to say, March is going to be very big month for the Gunners.