Whilst a number of top European soccer leagues take a break over the Christmas and New Year period, the Premier League continues to serve up a feast of festive fixtures, much to the delight of sports fans around the world.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is just one of a handful of coaches in the English top flight to have taken umbrage with the FA’s scheduling and has suggested that his side’s four fixtures in 11 days is ‘killing’ his players. The former Bayern and Barcelona coach has led his big-spending squad to the summit of the Premier League table, where they can boast a 15 point lead over rivals Manchester United at the beginning of 2018. Pep has been largely consistent in his selection process this season, with the likes of Ederson commanding his spot in goal and the diligent work of Fernandinho helping shield the Manchester City defence. Kevin De Bruyne has been the standout star in a talented team who remain unbeaten and are also in the hunt for Champions League glory too.
John Stones suffered a hamstring injury and has missed 12 matches whilst David Silva has been absent throughout the majority of December for personal reasons. Vincent Kompany’s fitness continues to be an issue whilst Benjamin Mendy’s cruciate ligament problem will keep him out until at least April. To add to Pep Guardiola’s frustration, Kyle Walker, and Gabriel Jesus have both been lost to injury over the past couple of weeks with the latter likely to miss all of January due to a knee issue.
Rival fans will point to Manchester City’s spending power in the transfer market and will have very little sympathy for the Spaniard. Every side is forced to fulfil their festive fixtures and each team has their fair share of injury problems too. Brighton and Bournemouth, who met on January 1st, had just 45 hours to prepare for that game following their previous fixtures but their respective managers simply acknowledged it was part and parcel of the Premier League season.
Many other sports also undergo a hectic schedule throughout the festive period, with NFL fixtures staged across the holiday season and, although an NHL game has not been played on Christmas Day since 1972, teams such as the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers have each played five times in just under two weeks going into the start of 2018. The NBA season has also continued apace and not only does it please spectators to see their team in action but bettors regularly enjoy having a festive flutter on the action both in the Premier League and further afield.
Sports fans and punters can typically follow numerous matches on TV and, for those lulls in-between games or when waiting for the bets to come in, mobile users can even play games on a sporting-theme such as the popular slots Football: Champions Cup, Basketball Star or Cricket Star, all of which are available to play with Royal Panda, whose mix of video slots and traditional offerings such as blackjack, roulette and poker help rank it amongst the best live casinos. All of these options can be accessed from the comfort of your armchair.
Whilst four matches in eleven days may seem a little excessive, with FA Cup, Champions League, and International commitments, there is scarcely time to squeeze in an additional round of fixtures elsewhere in the calendar. Manchester City have one of the most talented and well-stocked squads in the division yet their manager is suggesting the quick-fire nature of the festive fixtures has left his squad short on numbers. There is unlikely to be too much sympathy around for Guardiola and soccer fans have certainly enjoyed every minute of the drama. Even without a number of key players, his side remain unbeaten, dominant, and miles clear of the chasing pack at the top of the Premier League, and Pep appears to have very little reason to complain.