Premier League festive fixture list: Who gets the most rest this Christmas?
Fans love it, managers hate it - football's festive fixture list.
All Premier League clubs play three games over the festive period - but Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has noticed the preparation times differ markedly between teams.
West Brom and Burnley are the only two sides who play all three games exactly as planned, 15:00 GMT kick-offs on Boxing Day, New Year's Eve and 2 January.
|Hours taken to play all three festive matches|
|Hours taken from the start of a team's first game to the end of their third game|
|2||Watford, Crystal Palace||201.5|
|8||Burnley, Everton, Sunderland, Tottenham, West Brom||170|
|9||Hull, Man City||167.75|
Of all top flight clubs, Southampton are the hardest hit. They have three games over six days - in only 117 hours.
By contrast, Mourinho's former club Chelsea fare the best, with 223 hours spanning their three games, giving them just over 90% more recovery time than Southampton.
Of the Premier League title contenders, Arsenal have the next greatest amount of time between their games, with Liverpool by far the worst hit, playing their fixtures over a period more than three days shorter than that of Chelsea.
Manchester United (172.25) are slightly better off than Manchester City (167.75). Though their games are moved, Tottenham's fixtures are over the same amount of time as those of West Brom and Burnley, exactly 170 hours.
'How do you prepare a team for this?'
Mourinho and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger may have had plenty of disagreements over the years, but they have found common ground with the Premier League's Christmas schedule.
"The busy period is for some clubs, not for everyone," said Mourinho. "If you analyse the fixtures, there are clubs where there is no congestion for them. It looks like the fixtures are chosen to give rest for some and to create problems to others."
Wenger, in his 20th year as a Premier League manager, finds the festive fixture list bewildering.
He said: "Last week, after the Champions League, we played two games, so that's three games a week. This week, we have eight days without a game.
"After that, some teams play on the 26th and the 1st so they have a complete week's break over Christmas which is unusual."
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has previously expressed his dissatisfaction with his team's schedule over Christmas and, in particular, New Year.
The German's side have less than 48 hours between matches against Manchester City and Sunderland after the games were rescheduled for television coverage.
The home match against City is at 17:30 GMT on 31 December - and kick-off at Sunderland is 15:00 GMT on 2 January.
Klopp said: "How do you prepare a team for this? Do you say: 'Only 50% against City because we have Sunderland on Monday?'"
Festive football fun for fans
Former Everton midfielder Leon Osman says footballers would love nothing more than to have a break over Christmas, but says a packed festive fixture schedule is something for the fans.
"I think if you offered the players a Christmas break, they would take it," Osman told BBC Radio 5 live.
"It is more for the fans but the players know it is part of the job. They are paid a lot of money to go out and perform when the matches come around - and the matches come around at Christmas, so you get on with it."
Who has it tough over Christmas?
- Hull play Manchester City in the late kick-off on Boxing Day and then face Everton on Friday, 30 December (20:00 GMT) - just four days later.
- Southampton play Tottenham at 19:45 on Wednesday, 28 December, West Brom at 15:00 on Saturday, 31 December then Everton away at 15:00 on Monday, 2 January.
- Liverpool get Boxing Day off but their tricky spell is around the turn of the year. They play Manchester City on Saturday, 31 December at 17:30 and then travel to Sunderland on Monday, 2 January for a 15:00 kick off.
- By contrast, Chelsea play Bournemouth on Boxing Day at 15:00, Stoke on Saturday, 31 December at 15:00 and Spurs the following Wednesday, 4 January at 20:00.