Some are away on sunny holidays while the unlucky ones are training as usual in the cold and the rain
As the Premier League, like many other teams around Europe right now, takes its winter break, we wonder what some of the league's biggest stars are up to during their time off. Some coaches have given their players a whole week to put their feet up. Some clubs have jetted off for warm weather training. For the unlucky few, it's business as usual on the cold, unforgiving training pitches of England in January.
The winter break was put in place to give the players in England's top flight the same consideration which is afforded to most on the continent, a chance to rest and recuperate during some of the coldest weeks of the year. Many may have forgotten about the measure as we only got through one season with a winter break before Covid-19 ended the newly established tradition.
The break is now back and players from up and down the division will have the chance to take some time off and rest. With many coaches complaining of fatigue, it should be a welcome respite. However, the decision hasn't been met with universal acclaim with many pointing to this period as the perfect opportunity to make up for lost time and play some of the many matches which have been postponed due to Covid-19 and injuries.
Regardless of where various parties stand on the issue, the Premier League winter break is here and it's here to stay, and the majority of clubs are using it to get their players back in fighting shape before the FA Cup fourth round begins on February 4 and the Premier League returns on February 5.
Here's what the Premier League teams are up to during this winter break:
Warm weather training camps
Only Arsenal and Newcastle have opted for warm weather training. Several clubs cancelled similar trips due to worries over Covid-19 but these two are going ahead with their plans. The Gunners are returning to Dubai where they enjoyed a similar camp during the last winter break in February 2022. Coach Mikel Arteta has signalled they may play a friendly upon their return before resuming Premier League action. Newcastle are off to Saudi Arabia for a warm weather camp of their own and plan to play a friendly out there. It is unclear whether or not they will meet their owners during the visit.
Business as usual
Aston Villa are one club giving very little time off to their players. Steven Gerrard has indicated that his team will train as normal but perhaps with slightly less intensity and more of a pre-season feel. They may also play a friendly. Brighton aren't interrupting their plans in any way. Burnley will be getting some much needed work done on the training ground in their bid to stay in the Premier League, and will look to pencil in a friendly. Everton are in turmoil on and off the pitch and so it's understood their players will get very little time off before getting straight back to work with interim coach Duncan Ferguson in training. Following Roy Hodgson's appointment as new manager of Watford today, it is believed that the club will give the new coach this time to work with his new players on the training pitch and try to get his ideas across before continuing their relegation battle.
Time off for holidays
By far the most common choice during the winter break has been to give players time off to either go abroad on holiday or simply relax and recuperate with their families. Brentford boss Thomas Frank has given the squad the whole week off as he heads off on a skiing holiday of his own. Thomas Tuchel has given his Chelsea side the full week off as he hopes they can recover from the fatigue which he frequently attributes to them. They decided against a warm weather training camp due to the fact they are off to Abu Dhabi to compete in the FIFA Club World Cup after the winter break ends and the rest of the teams return to Premier League action.
Crystal Palace will have some time to rest. Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa has said he will give his players "a high dosage of rest" during this period. Leicester City and Liverpool have asked their players to rest and spend time with their families before returning to a stacked end to the Premier League season. The two Manchester clubs both cancelled planned trips to Abu Dhabi and Dubai respectively and have given their players time off for holidays or rest. Several players from both clubs are flying away on luxurious holidays. Ralf Rangnick is likely to bring his United players back into training a little earlier than Guardiola as they hope to come out on top in a bitter battle for the top four.
Norwich and Southampton players have been given time off to rest as Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl is set to fly to his home country Austria to spend some time there. Antonio Conte is giving his Spurs players time off to rest before they play in the FA Cup fourth round next weekend. David Moyes plans to give his West Ham side the maximum possible time to rest and was quoted as saying 'I'll give the players time off. If ever there was a group of players who deserve it, it's this group.' Finally Wolves did hope to return to Marbella for a warm weather camp as they did previously, but for unknown reasons, coach Bruno Lage has instead given his players some time off to rest and spend time with their families.
Okay, so what football is on this weekend?
Have no fear. Football hasn't completed stopped. The EFL continues in full swing with action from the Championship, League One and League Two. There will also be vital games from the Africa Cup of Nations as the showpiece enters its quarter final stage on Saturday. The Coupe de France is pitting some top French clubs against each other and there will still be action from some of Europe's biggest leagues including the Primeira Liga in Portugal.
You can watch many of these games via live streaming with Bet 365.
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