Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool players will face one fewer game this Christmas as the Premier League has reduced the number of fixtures taking place over the festive period in a bid to protect players’ welfare.
The Liverpool manager has been hugely vocal about his dislike for the intense scheduling between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day with teams usually required to play two games in as little as 48 hours.
But when the fixtures for the new season were released on Thursday morning, there was a glaring hole on December 28, where the Premier League normally offers a round of fixtures.
With the Qatar World Cup forcing the English top-flight to take a six-week winter break, and with the final in Doha being held just eight days before the resumption of the league, clubs will be handed a minuscule rest period between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
During his time in England, Klopp has been critical about the relentless schedule his players have to adhere to. Many of Europe’s leading leagues have a standard winter break, but in England, teams often are forced to slog it out with three games in five days.
In 2019, ahead of the upcoming Christmas schedule, Klopp spoke about his dislike for the English timetable. He said: “Boxing Day I love as a supporter, I have no problem with the Christmas schedule. It’s the games around it, there are absolutely too many games. It’s possible (to get through the games) but not with the quality we should show.
“You always have injuries in this period, and it’s how do you deal with it. We’re talking about human beings, if they get injured it’s not cool.”
At that particular time, Klopp’s point was amplified because of the unprecedented schedule his side were facing as a result of their participation in the Club World Cup in Qatar.
The Reds played Watford at Anfield on Saturday, December 14 and were made to field a team, albeit a youthful one, against Aston Villa in the League Cup quarter-final on December 17, before taking on Monterrey 24 hours later in Qatar.
Klopp’s men then played, and won, the Club World Cup final against Flamengo on December 21 before racing back to face Leicester City on Boxing Day.
Despite the victory for Klopp on his views on player welfare this season, it seems to be an indecisive one given the relentless pressure players all around the world will be under next season in a bid to accommodate the World Cup.