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Explaining The Premier League’s Winter Break

The English Premier League is the most popular soccer division in the world and is loved all around America. Fortunately for American fans, the EPL does not have a winter break, which means there are games throughout the holiday season, much like they’re used to with American sports.

Unlike other European leagues, there’s no real break in play during the season unless there’s an international schedule. The only other breaks occurred in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the 2022 World Cup, given that it was hosted in December. 

However, there is what’s called a midseason break, which was adopted in 2018. But, instead of the league stopping play completely, a matchweek is spread over two weekends, with five games going on in the first and another five in the second. This means that each team gets one weekend off.

The five matches are played across three days due to broadcasting reasons.

This year, the first half came across January 12-14, with the second half scheduled for January 20-22. So we’re smack in the middle of it. 

You can see the schedule right below:

Friday, 12 January

  • Burnley v Luton Town 

Saturday, 13 January

  • Chelsea v Fulham 
  • Newcastle United v Manchester City 

Sunday, 14 January

  • Everton v Aston Villa 
  • Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur 

Saturday, 20 January

  • Arsenal v Crystal Palace 
  • Brentford v Nottingham Forest 

Sunday, 21 January

  • Sheffield United v West Ham United 
  • Bournemouth v Liverpool 

Monday, 22 January

  • Brighton & Hove Albion v Wolverhampton Wanderers 

While there’s a break in the Premier League’s hectic schedule, there are still plenty of matches to bet on during this period. This is particularly appealing to American fans, as the EPL is hugely popular in the United States. USA sports betting sites offer a wide range of odds, allowing fans to wager on various aspects of the league, such as the Premier League winner (with Manchester City currently the favorites at 4/7), the top four finishers, relegation candidates, and even the teams that will stay in the league.

The availability of odds and betting opportunities keeps the excitement alive for fans even during the midseason break.

This season’s break comes a bit earlier. Back in 2020, it took place during matchweek 26 but, this time around, it’s happening in matchweek 21 a lot closer to the busy holiday period.

Teams do have shortened breaks if they’re to participate in FA Cup Replaus, while the Carabao Cup (League Cup) semi-final is usually played around that time. The first legs of those semis have already taken place, with Chelsea losing 1-0 to Middlesbrough and Liverpool beating Fulham 2-1.

The second legs are set for January 23 and 24, respectively.

As for FA Cup replays, Crystal Palace, Everton, Brentford, Wolves, Luton Town, Nottingham Forest, and West Ham each have one in the third round.

Wolves would have been on the receiving end of a 17-day break, but they’ll only be away from the pitch competitively for 11 days because of the extra game.  

Chelsea, Fulham, and Liverpool have seen their breaks shortened because of the semi, with the Blues getting 10 days off while the latter pair on an 11-day break. 

The Football Association (FA), Premier League, and English Football League agreed to implement the break back in 2018, with the FA deeming it a “significant moment” that would “greatly benefit club and country” ahead of the Euros that summer. 

While most clubs reacted positively, then-Tottenham Hotspur boss Jose Mourinho said he didn’t care about it because it was too far from his Champions League round-of-16 fixture against RB Leipzig.

“In the end, before the Champions League, we don’t have the break,” the Portuguese coach, who was fired from Roma on Tuesday, said. “We have to play Aston Villa on the Sunday before playing Red Bull (Leipzig) two days later.”

The midseason break has been a much-debated topic among Premier League fans and pundits alike. While some believe it provides much-needed rest for the players, others argue that it disrupts the flow of the league and takes away from the excitement. 

However, it is worth noting that the Premier League is known for its relentless pace and physicality, while its athletes often play multiple games a week. So a midseason break can give the players some respite and help them recover from any niggling injuries. 

Moreover, it can also provide an opportunity for the teams to regroup, reassess their strategies, and come back stronger for the second half of the season. There is some merit to it.

Alex Kaiser
Alex Kaiser
He is an experienced Senior Editor on Footbalium, who also writes interesting articles about various football topics.
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