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Earthwire

Premier League schedule: Which club has the toughest festive fixtures?

2 posts in this topic

 

It's the most wonderful time of the year. It's also one of the most demanding for Premier League footballers.

While their counterparts in France, Germany, Italy and Spain enjoy a winter break, every team in England's top flight will play four games between 21 December and 3 January.

Of the 20 Premier League sides, Tottenham and Everton have the most demanding schedule - playing their four matches within the space of 10 days.

In contrast, the league's top two sides - Liverpool and Manchester City - have more recovery time, with the former playing their fixtures over 14 days, and the latter 13. The Reds have almost 100 hours more recovery time than Spurs.

But what of the rest of the division? Which clubs have been given a potential advantage? And which can feel hard done by at the games handed to them at a potentially crucial stage of the season?

The top five
Last season, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola warned that the demands of the schedule over the festive period would "kill players" after City faced Watford 48 hours after a New Year's Eve game.

Premier League teams will have one more day's rest this year than they had in 2017, but all will still have to pack a quartet of matches into a relatively tight timeframe.

Tottenham are the only side in the current top five who have just two days' rest between each of their games, after their trips to Everton and Cardiff were moved to 23 December and New Year's Day respectively for TV.

Spurs will also be coming into this run of games in a month that has already seen them play six games in 18 days courtesy of their involvement in the Premier League, Champions League and Carabao Cup.


Manchester City have an extra day of recovery time between each of their four fixtures, while Liverpool have two gaps of four days. Arsenal and Chelsea have it slightly tougher, but their schedule is still not as demanding as that facing Pochettino's side.

Spurs also have some tricky opponents, with games against top-half sides Everton and Wolves, a match with a Bournemouth team who have only just dropped to 11th and a tough trip to Cardiff, who have won their past three at home.

Unbeaten league-leaders Liverpool arguably have the hardest task on paper with regard to calibre of opponent, with the Reds facing three sides in the top half of the Premier League, including a festive-period-concluding, top-of-the-table tie at second-placed Manchester City.


Southampton may feel a four-day rest between their first two games - against Huddersfield and West Ham - will assist them, but this is balanced out by just two days each to recover for tough matches against Manchester City and Chelsea.

The festive period could be an opportunity for Huddersfield to make ground on their rivals - they face the other three teams in the bottom four - while Crystal Palace appear to have it toughest in terms of opponents, facing three of the top seven.

Things, though, rarely pan out as expected. Fantasy football managers might want to bear this in mind when the inevitable squad rotation occurs, scuppering all best laid plans for a bumper festive score.


Driving away for Christmas
It is not just the players putting in the yards this Christmas and new year. Premier League fans will be trekking up and down the country to watch their teams play.

Newcastle supporters will travel the furthest, covering 440 miles to visit Liverpool and Watford in their two away fixtures.

At the other end of the scale are Chelsea, whose supporters have a comfortable 30 miles to navigate for their matches at Watford and Crystal Palace.

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As yesterday's Chelsea and City results proved, it doesn't matter who you face at this time of year, it's silly season.  Best time to get one of the "big 6" in my opinion.

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