Whatever you think of Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini's decision to basically concede the FA Cup in the previous round -- I would be livid if a Chelsea manager did that, to be sure -- in his mind, it was a justified decision thanks to injuries and a congested fixture list. As it turned out, they probably didn't need to be so worried about Dynamo Kiev (hell, even Chelsea almost beat them in the groups!), but at the time, I'm sure City felt they had no other choice.
The FA could've helped them out since there was nothing that was preventing that match from getting played a day earlier, on Saturday*, and allowing the extra time for City to travel to and get ready for their match in Ukraine, but they didn't. That's the FA for ya, who for all their other inconsistencies and seemingly biased decisions, are also a spineless plaything of TV companies. When the TV people say "Jump!", the FA says "How high?" rather than "Wait, maybe jumping isn't the best thing right now for our old and decrepit knees".
* Yes, this would've reduced Chelsea's rest by one day as well, though playing Paris and London back-to-back is a bit easier than back-to-back away games in London and Kiev. There were also policing considerations in conjunction with Fulham's match scheduled for that weekend, but, surely, a solution could've been found.
Given all the controversy in the last round, one would think the FA would think twice when setting the FA Cup quarterfinal schedule. Maybe try to work with the TV people? The FA seems to have no problem flouting UEFA regulations and allowing the Arsenal vs. Hull City replay to interfere with a European night, but with the very next breath, they screw over both Arsenal and Chelsea. Try this schedule on for size:
Friday, March 11:
Reading vs. Crystal Palace (BBC, 19:55 GMT)
Saturday, March 12:
Hull City vs. Watford (BT Sport, 12:00 GMT)
Everton vs. CHELSEA (BBC, 17:30 GMT)
Sunday 13 March:
Arsenal vs. Watford (BT Sport, 13:30 GMT)
Manchester United vs. West Ham United (BT Sport, 16:00 GMT)
The Arsenal vs. Hull City replay takes place on Tuesday, the 8th, but if Hull win, they play on Saturday. If Arsenal win, they play on Sunday. Huh?
While I enjoy a bit of schadenfreude in seeing the FA darlings get screwed over, Chelsea are also getting the short end of the stick with the Saturday date. It would make much more sense for Chelsea to play on Sunday (considering we have PSG on the previous Wednesday and don't have another game until the following weekend) and it would make much more sense for Arsenal to play on Saturday (considering they have Barcelona away the following Wednesday). So now, instead of both teams getting three days rest, both only get two. Thanks, FA!
Sure, it's a small thing. Both Chelsea and Arsenal should be able to handle two-day rests. We should be used to them. But if we could easily have three, why wouldn't the FA ensure that we do get three? There have been recent rumblings of the FA wising up and considering reforms of some sort to the overcrowded fixture list. While that sounds great and all, first they might want consider not doing everything in their power to screw over their own teams competing in Europe. If nothing else, think about the UEFA coefficient! That would be a good place to start.