Date: 9th January 2017 at 8:36am
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With the majority of Premier League managers talking about the nonsense that they thought the 2016 festive fixture list was well they aren’t going to be any happier next December.

With all clubs facing three games between Boxing Day and January 4 and some faring far better than others with the recovery time they had during that period – Click Here – there were also fixtures earlier in December to consider but for most it came to seven or eight games depending on other challenges a side faces this season from December 1 through to January 4.

That goes out the window for the 2017/18 campaign because Premier League sides will have six top flight matches in 17 days to contend with.

For most of this season so far from the Football Association all we’ve heard following the European Championships has been talk of burn out, restructuring the game to give players more time off, winter breaks and so on but somebody somewhere has decided that the way to solve fatigue ahead of the 2018 World Cup is to shrink the football calendar that year, and create even less recovery time for players.

With four fixtures in general scheduled from December 16 through to January 4, next year that will bounce to six fixtures between the same rough time period.

Of course nothing is confirmed yet as there are still a few stages of the fixture process to go through and it won’t be set in stone until next June – and even then it won’t be set in stone in reality because the television companies will have to get their hands on it as well and move games around to suit them.

As we saw this year (above link) with a number of sides facing three games in effectively eight/nine days, some will inevitably benefit more than others from the television selection schedule and that will only kick off another round of managers talking about fairness and parity over the period.

And we’ll still have the same sort of talk about England that we always have as nothing changes there does it!

The provisional schedule so far from mid December onwards reads at the moment.

Saturday 16 December 2017
Wednesday 20 December 2017
Saturday 23 December 2017
Tuesday 26 December 2017
Saturday 30 December 2017
Monday 1 January 2018

But that will no doubt spread through until January 4ish again like normal when it’s finally set and the TV selections are made, but that won’t apply to everybody obviously.

Details – BBC.

For a comparison, the Premier League this festive period saw 40 games (each club had four matches) across 12 separate matchdays with a game on each day bar one between December 17 and January 4 – 2015/16 also saw 40 games played between December 19 and January 3 with games split across nine days.

For 2017/18 that will be 60 games across the similar period giving even less recovery time.

It will clearly be a discussion point with Chelsea getting 223 hours for their three games at the end of the year, whereas Southampton only got 117 hours across their matches as that run of games looks ridiculous to be honest and the extra matches really should be fitted in elsewhere in the year if the Premier League wants to shut up shop earlier for the World Cup.

For this year whilst Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger describing it as the ‘most uneven Christmas period’ in the last 20 years, Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho said ‘it looks like the fixtures are chosen to give rest for some and to create problems for others’.

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp questioned ‘how do you prepare a team for this’ and even Swansea’s caretaker gaffer said after their victory over Crystal Palace ‘we had 24 hours more rest compared to them and that may have made a difference.’

The dissenting voice was West Brom’s Tony Pulis who said ‘Society`s changed – we`ve become softer. They get more than they`ve ever got before. If you tell people today they`re tired, then they`ll be tired. You don`t have to do too much to convince them. Two games in three days, playing professional football, for the money they get, are you sure? Go and ask their grandfathers who worked seven days a week, 12-hour days in a pit.’

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