For the first time in history, the Premier League has observed a winter break. However, not all teams have reaped the same benefits from this period. Some have greatly profited from the winter break while others have suffered. From Liverpool to Southampton, fortunes have greatly differentiated during this time.
The Winners and Losers of the Premier League Winter Break
It seems like nothing can go wrong for Liverpool these days.
Despite being forced to play an FA Cup fourth round replay during the break, the Reds still got their rest as manager Jurgen Klopp decided to “respect” the winter break.
“In April 2019 we got a letter from the Premier League, I think, where they asked us to respect the winter break and not to organize international friendlies or competitive games. We respect that,” the German said to reporters. “So I said to the boys already two weeks ago that we will have a winter break which means we will not be there.”
This meant that the U23s got a run out in the cup, and they didn’t disappoint as the youngsters won 1-0 against League One side Shrewsbury Town.
So, Klopp got the best of both worlds. While his players rested, his team went through. The German really is the man with the magic touch.
Winner: Manchester United
Like Liverpool, Manchester United also had a positive winter break. The Red Devils have the joint-longest break with 15 days off. This will give their players plenty of time to recover ahead of the remainder of the season.
But, unlike Liverpool, United have been well below par this season. In their last six games, they’ve only won one and lost four. This is unacceptable form for a team with top-four aspirations and is a stark reminder that this team is a shell of the one that dominated Europe under former manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
In addition, this winter break should allow their injured players to recover. Midfielder Paul Pogba, who has been out since Boxing Day, posted a video of himself training without a protective boot. This is a huge boost for the team who are also missing Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay.
Winner: Newcastle United
Speaking of injuries, no team has been worse off going into the winter break than Newcastle United.
The Magpies have been missing a whopping 11 players, with many of them being key to their success. But, at least for the moment, midfielder Miguel Almiron seems to be close to a return with Jonjo Shelvey not far behind.
Without them, Newcastle have trodden water. They’ve only picked up five points in their last six games. But, this winter break has come at the right time for them. The returns of Almiron and Shelvey should be enough for them to consolidate a midtable finish, which would be a great season for a team that many considered to be surefire relegation candidates.
No team has had less time to recover than Southampton. The Saints have only had nine days off; a situation that is less than ideal for them.
Their misery is compounded by the fact that they also lost their last game. Southampton were knocked out of the FA Cup by Tottenham Hotspurs in a game where they were by no means outplayed.
Despite this, manager Ralph Hassenhutel is remaining positive.
“We didn’t, which is a pity, but we will still try to recover and recharge the batteries”, the Austrian told the club website. “It is important for every player, and we must use it now to come back in better shape. We must bring back the players in the shape that they can play 90 minutes like we want to.”
In a way, this winter break came at the worst possible time for Burnley. The Clarets have been on a roll lately, winning two of their last three games.
Few teams have better form in that period. It seems like they were finally building momentum. Now, manager Sean Dyche will be hoping that his side can keep it up.
If they continue playing like they are at the moment, then they could potentially find themselves in mid-table at the end of the season. Dyche is truly getting the most out of his team once again.