Over the current festive period when some Premier League clubs play three matches in two days, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is quite correct in his assertion that too many games are being scheduled in such a short time frame. His team are being asked to play three matches in seven days while trying to maintain the same standard of football for the paying spectators. While other countries are enjoying a festive break, England persists with an unbroken schedule which may actually short change the supporters.
Although there are many financial benefits of staging football matches during the holiday period, especially with improved gate receipts, there is the argument that those teams with stronger squads will gain a distinct advantage. Clubs which have derived the benefit of several seasons of Champions League money can field an array of senior players at this time whereas other squads are tested to the limit at Christmas and New Year.
There was also the classic example from last season where the Arsenal Boxing Day match was postponed allowing their players to approach the following match just three days later in a fresher condition than their opponents Newcastle. The Magpies had been involved in a titanic struggle with Manchester United on Boxing Day which they lost 4-3 and were then asked to travel to London to meet Arsenal with virtually the same starting eleven.
That match at the Emirates finished 7-3 to the hosts with Newcastle conceding four goals in the final 20 minutes during which time their reserves of energy was completely depleted amid an onslaught from the Gunners towards the finale.
The home supporters may have left the stadium in fine voice but for the neutral observer, it became a match with one team eventually dominating their opponents by virtue of fatigue rather than footballing ability. That may also be the case in several instances during the current holiday schedule despite improved fitness levels and players earning vast sums of money per week.
It is generally recognised that the English public anticipate the Christmas holiday fixtures with relish, but further into festive season, the quality of football may actually diminish and that cannot be an advantageous prospect.
There is also the argument about the staging of matches when public transport is operating on a considerably reduced timetable, with supporters needing to find alternative and sometimes more arduous journeys to watch their favourite team in action.
No doubt the case for a winter break in English football will continue to be forwarded as has happened for many years previously but with increased attendances and television exposure still offering financial incentives for the clubs during this period, it appears that the current hectic schedule will remain for the foreseeable future.
Latest posts by John Welsh (see all)
- The Premier League title destination remains uncertain in an unpredictable season to date - December 31, 2015
- England win opening test as South African batting frailties are exposed - December 30, 2015
- Cue Card and Sprinter Sacre erase the nightmares of their miserable 2013 Christmas - December 29, 2015