Sheffield United get the rough end of the deal
Only four clubs will fare worse than Sheffield United during next month’s winter break, all of whom are involved in FA Cup fourth round replays.
Chris Wilder’s side, who are eighth in the Premier League table despite only being promoted last term, are set to benefit from a 12 day hiatus in their fixture calendar; together with Manchester City, AFC Bournemouth, Burnley and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
But with 10 others set to enjoy 13 days off or more, United are among the biggest losers of the new system which was introduced at the beginning of the season.
Although Southampton, Liverpool, Newcastle and Tottenham Hotspur have been handed a maximum of 11 days off, this is because they are still battling to reach the fifth round of the country’s flagship domestic competition.
United, who travel to Crystal Palace this weekend, are scheduled to fly to the Middle East for warm weather training after their meeting with AFC Bournemouth on February 9, returning to action when Brighton and Hove Albion visit South Yorkshire on February 22.
United set up a trip to either Cardiff City or Reading after beating Millwall last weekend, with Wilder later acknowledging he had made a select number of changes to ensure his squad remains in peak condition.
“It’s a demanding division,” Wilder said. “In the ways you would expect and others as well.
“Mentally, it’s very tough for the players because of the concentration levels you need.”