Water breaks make perfect sense to me from a science and safety perspective. It’s not that players get mollycoddled.
After a three-month forced break, you don’t want players to fall like flies with muscle injuries because they’re dehydrated.
And you can’t risk players drinking from the same water bottle, as would normally happen if it is customary to take a quick swig from the common drink bottle if you happen to pass the excavated space in the game.
Since the resumption of football, Danny Murphy has defended the need for water breaks
So while I understand the frustrations of a delay in the action, the benefits of a drinking break outweigh the downside right now.
We all desperately wanted football back – no one knocked harder than me before – but we also need to be sensible and understand that there will be certain circumstances in these unique times.
Rehydration is extremely important for muscle fatigue. The sports science department at each club will be spreading that message to their players, especially now that they’ve been away for so long. They will tell players to absorb more fluids.
Among the managers were Jose Mourinho who argued against the need for water breaks
Water breaks have been brought in since the Premier League restarted last month
Most injuries are caused by fatigue towards the end of the match, so the second half break is particularly necessary. I am not advocating that the breaks remain permanent and make football a four-quarter game.
But this problem usually does not arise because players have a higher basic condition and the intake of salts and glucose during rest would be sufficient.
Now they come with a longer break than they’ve ever had, with matches squeezed every few days.
Obviously they need extra rehydration during a game and in these times it requires a regulated system of individually named bottles for each player.
I don’t think the health aspect should be overlooked. We still have to ensure that the resumption of football does not lead to new cases of coronavirus.
I have heard people complain about the spectacle of a football match that the momentum stops. But if you spin it around, I’ve seen the break create more intensity in the next part of the game.
The manager can also pass on tactical information and adjust things that I think add another interesting layer. One occasion that stood out was when Brendan Rodgers was demonstrative to his Leicester players in the first half when they were 2-0 against Everton. You could see the intention and Leicester improved after that, even though they lost 2-1. From a health point of view, I would say that the second half break is more important than the first.
Teams were able to improve their performance after a short conversation with their manager
Water breaks have also been used outside of England, including games in LaLiga
It is interesting if a manager makes changes during the break. It is a good test for a coach. He can explain to his players the idea behind the changes instead of secretly handing over pieces of paper.
Some of the complaints about the drinking break were due to the recent troubled weather. While it was well-planned in case the players were faced with blazing summer heat, we haven’t really had those scorching temperatures.
But while it may seem odd to viewers to see players being called out when it rains, I’d like to point out that it’s even warmer now than during the usual football season and the air is thicker.
Murphy says players have suffered at least one water break during matches in the second half
I have been exercising and it is thirsty work even when the sun is not at 90 degrees. And those players run for miles and miles.
You only encourage problems if you deprive them of the opportunity to rehydrate. It is crucial for safety and will become doubly important in the second half.
After a few months, the players are back up to speed. But at the moment they need at least one water break and that removes all the feelings we have that this is not quite what we are used to.
Burnley against Sheffield United
Danny Murphy’s Verdict: Two teams that come into play with European ambitions and follow big wins – Burnley at Crystal Palace and Sheffield United against Tottenham – they needed.
Neither will lack confidence or motivation, so I think it could be very close, despite the Blades winning the inverted fixture 3-0 in Bramall Lane. This will be tighter.
Prediction: Burnley 1 Sheffield United 1
Newcastle v West Ham
Danny Murphy’s Verdict: West Ham’s win over Chelsea was brilliant and so important in their relegation battle. My only concern is how much they put into that game, especially now that they have to play against a team in the current form of Newcastle.
Steve Bruce’s side will be exciting to go after four past Bournemouth. West Ham won’t make it easy for them, but the long journey north can barely count for the London club.
Prediction: Newcastle 2 West Ham 1
Liverpool against Aston Villa
Danny Murphy’s Verdict: I don’t think Liverpool’s 4-0 drumming in Manchester City is good news for Villa. I expect a strong response from Jurgen Klopp’s team and fear of the visitors – an injured animal of this size is always dangerous.
Liverpool’s attitude is almost always perfect, so I think they would like to leave the City game behind and Villa just doesn’t score enough goals to make sure they’re upset.
Prediction: Liverpool 3 Aston Villa 0
Southampton against Manchester City
Danny Murphy’s Verdict: This will be my first game live at the stadium since the restart and I look forward to seeing Danny Ings of Southampton in particular who has had an excellent season and is challenging for the Golden Boot.
Ings will want to push himself, but City is not an ideal opponent, regardless of which line-up Pep Guardiola also propagates. The visitors look strong and creative, so I think they will have too much.
Prediction: Southampton 1 Man City 3