Water Breaks make perfectly logical sense to me from a perspective of science and safety. It’s not a case of players being mollycoddled.
After an enforced three-month break, you don’t want players dropping like flies with muscular injuries because they are dehydrated.
And you can’t have the risk of players drinking from the same water bottle, as would happen normally when it’s common practice to have a quick swig from the communal drinks holdall if you happened to be passing the dug-out area in the game.
Danny Murphy has defended the need for water breaks since the resumption of football
So while I understand the frustrations of any delay to the action, the benefits of a drinks break at this time far outweigh the downside.
We all desperately wanted football back — nobody beat the drum for that to happen louder than I did — but we also have to be sensible and understand there will be certain conditions in these unique times.
Rehydration is extremely important for muscle fatigue. Every club’s sports science department will hammer out that message to their players, especially now that they’ve been off for so long. They will be telling players to take on more fluids.
Managers included Jose Mourinho have argued against the necessity of water breaks
Water breaks have been brought in due to matches being squeezed in every couple of days
Most injuries occur towards the end of the game through fatigue, so the second-half break in particular is a necessity. I’m not advocating the breaks stay permanently and turning football into a match of four quarters.
But this issue wouldn’t usually arise because players would have a higher base fitness level and taking on salts and glucose at half-time would be enough.
Now they’re coming off a longer break than they have ever had, with matches squeezed in every few days.
It’s obvious they need additional rehydration during a game and in these times it requires a regulated system with individually named bottles for each player.
I don’t think the health aspect should be overlooked. We are still in the business of guaranteeing that the resumption of football doesn’t lead to any new cases of coronavirus.
From the spectacle of a football match, I’ve heard people complain that it stops momentum. But, if you spin it round, what I have seen is that the break creates more intensity in the next section of the game.
The manager also gets to pass on tactical information and tweak things which I think adds another layer of interest. One occasion that sticks out was when Brendan Rodgers was being demonstrative to his Leicester players in the first half when they were 2-0 down to Everton. You could see the intent and Leicester improved after that, even though they lost 2-1. I’d say from a health perspective, the second-half break is more important than the first.
Teams have been able to improve their performances after a quick chat with their manager
Water breaks have also been used outside of England including games in LaLiga
It’s interesting when a manager makes substitutions during the break. It is a good test for a coach. He can explain to his players the idea behind the changes rather than have pieces of paper being surreptitiously handed around.
Some of the griping around the drinks break has been because of the recent unsettled weather. While it was planned with good intentions in case the players had to cope with searing summer heat, we’ve not really had those scorching temperatures.
But while it may look odd for viewers to see players being called over when it’s raining, I’d point out it is still warmer now than during the usual football season and the air is thicker.
Murphy says that players need at least one water break during games in the second-half
I’ve been doing exercise and it’s thirsty work even if the sun isn’t blazing at 90 degrees. And those players are running miles and miles.
You are only encouraging problems if you deny them the opportunity to rehydrate. It is crucial for safety and becomes doubly important in the second half.
A couple of months in and the players will be up to speed again. But right now they need at least one water break and that overrides any feelings we have that this isn’t quite what we are used to.
Burnley v Sheffield United
Danny Murphy’s verdict: Two teams who are coming into the game with European aspirations and following up great wins — Burnley at Crystal Palace and Sheffield United against Tottenham — which they needed.
Neither will be lacking in confidence or motivation so I think it could be very close despite the Blades winning the reverse fixture 3-0 at Bramall Lane. This one will be tighter.
Prediction: Burnley 1 Sheffield United 1
Newcastle v West Ham
Danny Murphy’s verdict: West Ham’s win against Chelsea was brilliant and so important in their relegation fight. My only concern is how much they put into that game, particularly now that they have to play against a team in Newcastle’s current form.
Steve Bruce’s side will be raring to go after putting four past Bournemouth. West Ham won’t make it easy for them but the long trip north may narrowly count against the London club.
Prediction: Newcastle 2 West Ham 1
Liverpool v Aston Villa
Danny Murphy’s verdict: I don’t think Liverpool’s 4-0 drubbing at Manchester City is good news for Villa. I expect a strong reaction from Jurgen Klopp’s team and fear for the visitors — a wounded animal of this size is always dangerous.
Liverpool’s attitude is nearly always spot-on so I think they’ll be keen to put the City game behind them and Villa just don’t score enough goals to be confident about causing an upset.
Prediction: Liverpool 3 Aston Villa 0
Southampton v Manchester City
Danny Murphy’s verdict: This will be my first match live in the stadium since the restart and I’m looking forward to it, particularly watching Southampton’s Danny Ings who has enjoyed an outstanding season and is challenging for the Golden Boot.
Ings will want to push himself but City aren’t ideal opponents, whichever line-up Pep Guardiola puts out. The visitors look strong and full of creativity so I think they will have too much.
Prediction: Southampton 1 Man City 3
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