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How many team changes did Premier League clubs make in the FA Cup?

February 2, 2020

Broadcasters BT Sport have been promoting their coverage of this season’s FA Cup with a funny advertising campaign and the slogan ‘Don’t Mug Off the Cup’ The adverts feature a human-sized FA Cup mascot that isn’t quite as friendly and cuddly as it first appears when people start casting aspersions on the world’s oldest cup competition We’ve had smashed vases, flying spaghetti bolognese, muddied car paintwork and a ruined hipster beard in their adverts so far If only a few Premier League managers had been paying attention to BT’s slogan then they might be in Monday night’s fifth-round draw The Cup has played second fiddle to the Premier League – not to mention European competitions – in the priorities of top-flight managers for quite some time now It offers ample opportunity, especially during the early rounds, to rotate squads and offer fringe and younger players the chance to get some game-time But a number of Premier League bosses discovered that you tinker with team line-ups at your peril in the fourth round weekend just passed It goes some way to explaining why there are only seven surviving top-flight teams left in the competition, with 13 of the elite eliminated Premier League team changes in the FA Cup fourth round  11 – Watford (won 2-0 at Newcastle)7 – Newcastle United (lost 0-2 to Watford)7 – Tottenham (lost 2-0 at Crystal Palace)7 – Burnley (lost 0-5 at Manchester City)6 – Brighton (drew 0-0 with West Brom)6 – Chelsea (won 3-0 against Sheffield Wednesday)6 – Crystal Palace (won 2-0 against Tottenham) 6 – West Ham (lost 2-4 at AFC Wimbledon)6 – Wolves (drew 2-2 at Shrewsbury Town)5 – Manchester United (won 3-1 at Arsenal)4 – Manchester City (won 5-0 against Burnley)3 – Arsenal (lost 3-1 to Manchester United)2 – Everton (lost 3-2 at Millwall)  Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley all made seven changes from their last league fixture and duly crashed out of the competition West Ham, meanwhile, made six alterations and were humiliated by League One’s basement side AFC Wimbledon  Wolves also made half-a-dozen changes at League One Shrewsbury and were seconds from crashing out Brighton switched six players and were held to a goalless stalemate on home turf by Championship side West Bromwich Albion On average, the 13 Premier League teams in action over the fourth-round weekend made 5 8 changes apiece.And while Watford changed their entire team line-up for the second consecutive round, they won 2-0 against a Newcastle side who’d made seven changes Crystal Palace made six alterations but prevailed against a Tottenham side that had made seven While some of the team changes, particularly in the case of Spurs, were forced by an injury crisis, most managers openly admit that the Cup offers the chance to give regulars a breather Yet they would never admit their decisions cheapen the competition and the policy has become standard practice in recent seasons One exception to the ‘don’t mug off the Cup’ rule are Everton, who made just two changes for their visit to Millwall and ended up losing 3-2 anyway

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