Home World The clubs represent 44 "crazy" days that will shape the season ThePipaNews

The clubs represent 44 “crazy” days that will shape the season ThePipaNews

ThePipaNews

The Premier League reopens tomorrow for perhaps the most mentally and physically demanding six weeks in its history.

44 days in which six of last season’s top seven will play 13 times in all competitions, compiling roughly a quarter of their season into just over 10 per cent of the available calendar.

“Insane. Wild. Madness,” says Simon Brundish, consultant sports scientist for various clubs and players.

“Crazy,” agrees Antonio Conte, Tottenham Hotspur’s manager.

“When we start talking about it, I get really angry,” added Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who, likening the situation to climate change, explained that “we all know we have to change” but apparently feels completely powerless to change football’s governance . bodies.

All this after last season’s sharp spike in Premier League injuries. But there is another point. The next six weeks are also very likely to be decisive. They represent a positive opportunity for the clubs that can seize it.

With the World Cup taking place in Qatar between November 20 and December 18, Christmas will loom at the end of this period and recent history clearly underlines how order at that time of year so often defines.

Apart from Liverpool (2013-14, 2018-19 and 2020-21), the team top at Christmas have won the Premier League in each of the last 12 seasons. The club’s fate over Christmas has also been decided in terms of relegation.

“This is the moment you understand who are the contenders and the teams competing for Champions League positions,” said Conte.

It’s also a big moment for the big backroom teams. The psychologists must keep the players focused despite an approaching World Cup, while the many doctors, medics, physiotherapists and sports scientists will be tasked with maintaining the players physically ahead of an unprecedented schedule.

It’s not just the volume of games but the fact that for the big clubs it’s almost exclusively Premier League and European games.

“There’s no opportunity to play with the kids — it’s unique,” says Brundish. “We have 15 years of GPS data – total running, high-speed distance, sprint distance and the implications for a player’s physiology,” he adds of the explosion of statistical information that informs when players are at risk of injury and should take preventative measures. “It’s the growing industry from a software perspective.”

Liverpool are now working with an American artificial intelligence company called Zone7, which has created computer algorithms that both detect injury risk and recommend action.

Most clubs are going in a similar direction. The basic rule of thumb is that playing with three clear days between matches is safe and manageable for most players. But playing with only two clear days between matches carries increased risk.

It is likely to be particularly challenging for the smaller clubs, due to the size of the squad, but also because they will usually have fewer players with a history of absorbing large numbers of minutes.

All the careful planning that has been going on since the matches were first confirmed in June has been further complicated by the postponement of the matches as a mark of respect for the late Queen.

While the room for maneuver has never been more limited, the reward for doing the right thing has never been greater either.

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]

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