Arsenal are off to Dubai. With 12 days until their next fixture, Mikel Arteta is keen to maximise the winter break window. But for other sides, FA Cup replays have wrecked their plans for a breather.
“We won’t get a break because now the priority is the replay,” lamented Nottingham Forest boss Nuno after his side were held at home by League One Blackpool. He had been planning a residency at St George’s Park to work intensively with the group he has recently been appointed to manage.
West Ham’s players were set to have this week off but will be back in training by Friday to prepare for a replay with Championship side Bristol City, while Brentford boss Thomas Frank was left quietly fuming, with his side’s replay with Wolves landing in the middle of what would have been a two-week break.
“This is the worst outcome, in every aspect,” he said, after watching his players labour to a draw at home despite the opposition being reduced to 10 players nine minutes in. Crystal Palace are in the same boat, with a replay with Everton disrupting their downtime.
After Covid and the winter World Cup caused the cancellation of the break over the past three seasons, some teams are missing out again. Liverpool’s rest period will have to wait a little longer, with their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at home to Fulham coming on Wednesday. They then have 11 days before their next Premier League fixture.
But while Luton have seen their planned Monday off this week scrapped so they can prepare for Friday’s rearranged Premier League fixture with Burnley, which was moved to make space for their replay with Bolton, they can at least look forward to some time off later in the month.
They, along with Aston Villa, Burnley, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle and Tottenham, are part of the second half of the staggered break, with no Premier League game until the final midweek of the month after this next round of games. Progress in the Cup would mean a fourth-round tie on the weekend of 20/21 January, though.
After a hectic December, which saw many teams play eight times, January affords more time on the training pitch and a rare opportunity to rest and recover. But some of the best-laid plans have been disrupted. Blackpool boss Neil Critchley had a wry response to the complaints of top-flight managers after forcing a replay with Forest: “It’s a busy schedule, yes, but so what? Just get on with it!”
When is your team next in action?
Tuesday January 9 – Middlesbrough vs Chelsea – Carabao Cup semi-final
Wednesday January 10 – Liverpool vs Fulham – Carabao Cup semi-final
Friday January 12 – Burnley vs Luton
Saturday January 13 – Chelsea vs Fulham, Newcastle vs Man City
Sunday January 14 – Everton vs Aston Villa, Manchester United vs Tottenham
Tuesday January 16 – Blackpool vs Nottingham Forest, Bolton vs Luton, Bristol City vs West Ham, Wolves vs Brentford – FA Cup replays
Wednesday January 17 – Everton vs Crystal Palace – FA Cup replay
Saturday January 20 – Arsenal vs Crystal Palace, Brentford vs Nottingham Forest
Sunday January 21 – Sheffield United vs West Ham, Bournemouth vs Liverpool
Monday January 22 – Brighton vs Wolves
Tuesday January 23 – Chelsea vs Middlesbrough – Carabao Cup semi-final
Wednesday January 24 – Fulham vs Liverpool – Carabao Cup semi-final
Tuesday January 30 – Nottingham Forest vs Arsenal, Fulham vs Everton, Luton vs Brighton, Crystal Palace vs Sheffield United, Aston Villa vs Newcastle
Wednesday January 31 – Man City vs Burnley, Tottenham vs Brentford, Liverpool vs Chelsea
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