The winter break offers a moment of calm… but Premier League clubs know that a storm is around the corner as they face a fixture pile-up like never before when they return to action next month
- The Premier League has just started its winter break, which lasts for two weeks
- This will offer players the chance to rest ahead of the final months of the season
- However, clubs face a fixture pile-up soon due to recent match postponements
Premier League stars have been jetting off in search of some winter sun, having been granted a welcome break from the relentless schedule.
But players will need to make the most of a rare rest because when they return they are braced for non-stop action, with fixtures piling up like never before.
This weekend sees a pause in the Premier League as the winter break returns. Top-flight bosses have been keen to keep the full break intact despite it seeming to offer an opportunity to play some of the 22 postponed fixtures.
Sean Dyche’s Burnley still have 20 games to play when the Premier League returns next month
With an international week looming in March, there will be just 14 weeks left of the season to fulfil the remaining Premier League games.
Bottom club Burnley have 20 matches to pack in, having had five matches called off. But things are no easier for Chelsea, who have the fewest Premier League games remaining (14) but are involved in four other competitions.
After playing Plymouth in the FA Cup on February 5, they travel to Abu Dhabi for two games at the Club World Cup.
Following a Premier League visit to Crystal Palace, they then host Lille in the Champions League and take on Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final.
Thomas Tuchel has been unhappy about Chelsea’s recent schedule and it won’t get any easier
If Thomas Tuchel’s side reach the final of all four cup competitions, they have 29 matches to play in 16 weeks. The same goes for Liverpool, who are in the hunt for three cups and have played two fewer league games than Chelsea.
But Leicester face the biggest fixture headache with a possible 30 games remaining — 18 in the Premier League, five in the FA Cup and seven in the Europa Conference League. To cram in all the games, there will be a smattering of Premier League fixtures almost every midweek between now and the end of the season.
UEFA do not usually allow domestic games to take place on the same night as their competitions, but have relaxed their rules because of the carnage caused by Covid and will consider requests.
Leicester may have the toughest schedule of all as they prepare to compete on multiple fronts
Replays in the FA Cup have also been scrapped to free up more midweek space.
This week’s winter break also coincides with an extra window to catch-up on international fixtures.
While European nations are not in action, World Cup qualifiers are taking place in North America, South America and Asia. With the Africa Cup of Nations also ongoing, it means a number of Premier League players will get no rest at all.
Arsenal and Newcastle are also not granting their stars time off and are instead using the break for warm-weather training camps. The Gunners are in Dubai and, more controversially, Eddie Howe’s men are in Saudi Arabia, the home of their new owners.
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