Premier League clubs will have their first winter break in February – but how long will players get off and what impact will it have?
Not in February. The break has been brought in to give clubs 13 days off after the busy – and unchanged – festive calendar (more on the length of that break below). But it has been structured so eight Premier League teams are in action on one weekend and the other 12 play on the following weekend.
This means the Premier League break will work differently to many top European leagues, which completely shut down. Premier League fans will have plenty of football to watch during the ‘break’!
As you can see from the chart above, not every team has 13 days off – as was planned.
The reason for that is the placement of the FA Cup fourth-round replays, which involve Liverpool, Tottenham, Southampton and Newcastle. Naturally, those sides haven’t been best pleased with how the schedule has worked out.
“They need a rest. Mental rest and physical rest,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who has said he and his first-team squad won’t be involved in the replay with Shrewsbury. “That’s what the winter break is about and then another competition tells us it’s not that important. So we have to make this decision because the boys have families.”
Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho was also frustrated to see his side’s workload increased after drawing with Southampton and Saints’ boss Ralph Hasenhuttl revealed his side’s warm-weather break will now be cancelled. Newcastle have also cancelled their winter break plans.
“Now we have a replay in our winter break and that doesn’t make sense for me,” Hasenhuttl said. “This game deserved to have a winner or a loser. It was so intense, it was exciting for the fans and that is what a cup game should be about.”
The FA Cup fifth round will be played in midweek to accommodate the February break and replays have been scrapped from that stage onwards, with ties decided by extra-time and penalties on the day if there are draws.
The change is not so dramatic. Everton, Newcastle, Crystal Palace, West Ham and Watford each had breaks of at least 13 days between games last February.
Aside from the teams involved in FA Cup fourth-round replays, clubs with a break will still need to train for the second game so it is not a full fortnight of rest either.
Teams on a break from league action are allowed to travel abroad for training camps. However, money-making tours in the US or Far East will not be accepted.
The majority, though, have opted to allow their players their own individual holiday followed by training sessions at the club’s usual training ground. That’s the format Liverpool and Manchester City are going with, while at Chelsea Frank Lampard is giving his players free time in the early part of the fortnight before a ‘mini pre-season’ at Cobham.
Manchester United had planned to get away to a warm-weather camp in the Middle East – but tensions in the region have forced a rethink – while Sheffield United will be travelling to Dubai.