Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 6 April 2020

Why is the Premier League introducing a winter break and does it mean there won't be any matches?

The Premier League are introducing a 'mid-season player break, which comes into effect next month

While England's Premier League may be the richest in the world, it has often been accused of lagging behind its European counterparts in some areas.

VAR technology was made mandatory a season after most other leagues - as well as Uefa's lucrative Champpions League - had implemented it.

For decades managers and players have complained about having to play too many matches in too short a time frame, particularly over the Christmas and New Year period. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has been vocal in his concerns about the amount of games his players are forced to play, warning that the festive schedule was "killing" players.

The Premier League's continental neighbours in the Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Serie A have always factored in a break to their schedule to allow players time off to enjoy the holidays with their families and loved ones.

The Premier League have acted by introducing a break, which comes into effect next month.

Why is the Premier League introducing a winter break?

The winter break has been introduced to the Premier League to help reduce fixture congestion and to give players a rest.

Arsenal have been one of the first clubs to take advantage of the break, announcing on Tuesday that the first-team squad will head to Dubai on February 7 for warm-weather training.

When does it start?

The 2019/20 Premier League winter break takes place in February 2020. It will work by splitting one game week across two weekends.

Two games will be played on Saturday, February 8 with another two the following day.

One match takes place on Friday, February 14 and another two on Saturday, February 15. There are two games slated for Sunday, February 16 before Chelsea v Manchester United wrap things up on the Monday.

Fixtures

Saturday, February 8 (all times UAE)

Everton v Crystal Palace, 4.30pm

Brighton v Watford, 9.30pm

Sunday, February 9

Sheffield United v Bournemouth, 6pm

Manchester City v West Ham, 8.30pm

Friday, February 14

Wolves v Leicester, midnight (Saturday)

Saturday, February 15

Southampton v Burnley, 4.30pm

Norwich City v Liverpool, 9.30pm

Sunday, February 16

Aston Villa v Tottenham, 6pm

Arsenal v Newcastle, 8.30pm

Monday, February 17

Chelsea v Manchester United, midnight (Tuesday)

It's not really a winter break, is it?

Not in the traditional sense, no. The Premier League has refrained from using the term. Instead, league officials have described it as a "mid-season player break".

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League One Shrewsbury Town force Liverpool FA Cup replay

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What about FA Cup replays?

In order to help with the implementation of the break the English Football Association agreed to move FA Cup fifth-round matches, which traditionally occurred in mid-February, to mid-week at the beginning of March.

But of course, this did not factor in fourth-round replays.

FA Cup fourth-round replays have been scheduled this season for February 4 and 5 - bang smack in the middle of the aforementioned mid-season player break.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has already insisted none of his first-team players will play against Shrewsbury Town, the third-tier club who came from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw against the Premier League leaders on Sunday.

"In April 2019, we got a letter from the Premier League where they asked us to respect the winter break, not to organise friendlies and not to organise competitive games in respect of it," Klopp said.

"I have said to the boys already, two weeks ago, that we will have a winter break, so it means we will not be there - it will be the kids who play that game because they cannot deal with us like nobody cares about it."

Conclusion

Long overdue. Should hopefully appease managers and players as well as fans who were petrified that any introduction of a mid-season break would mean no fixtures over the Christmas period.

Updated: January 29, 2020 09:48 AM

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