MANCHESTER rivals City and United both face NINE matches this month – as Prem chiefs attempt to get the season back on track.
League bosses ordered the two clubs to play their “catch-up” opening week games from September in what were due to be the two teams’ only free midweeks of the month.
United will now travel to Burnley on January 12, while City’s outstanding match at home to Aston Villa will be played on January 20.
It means both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Pep Guardiola’s side will have to play six Prem matches in the month, starting with United’s game against Villa on Friday.
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In addition, the two sides meet in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final at Old Trafford.
And with two FA Cup rounds scheduled before the end of the month, it means a serious mid-season pile-up for both clubs.
Prem bosses are determined to push ahead with getting as many of the overdue games as possible played.
The latest scheduling still leaves three outstanding matches that have been postponed for Covid reasons – this week’s scheduled games between Everton and City and Spurs and Fulham, plus Villa’s game with Newcastle which was called off last month.
While League chiefs dismissed the idea of a “circuit breaker” amid rising transmission of the mutant strains if the virus, there is a recognition that the situation remains fluid and that football cannot fully control such events.
With the top flight season having to end by May 23, there is little or no wriggle room for the fixture schedulers to play with, especially for clubs who go deep in European or domestic cup competitions.
Meanwhile, EFL bosses, already juggling with a spate of Covid outbreaks and growing calls to extend their season, were forced to postpone Fleetwood’s upcoming League One matches with Ipswich and Sunderland.
Accrington manager John Coleman, whose side have played FIVE matches fewer than some of their League One rivals, said: “We will have to play one game every four days. That's going to be a tall order.
Manchester United’s January Fixtures
January 1st – Aston Villa (H) Premier League
January 6th – Manchester City (H) EFL Cup semi-final
January 9th – Watford (H) FA Cup 3rd round
January 12th – Burnley (A) Premier League
January 17th – Liverpool (A) Premier League
January 20th – Fulham (A) Premier League
January 23rd – FA Cup 4th round
January 27th – Sheffield United (H) Premier League
January 30th – Arsenal (A) Premier League
“I believe in picking my best team every week so you don't have the opportunity to rotate like the big Premier League clubs have.
“It's a physical demand on the players. You have to factor in games that also get called off because of the weather.
“If you add a few in, the only logical conclusion is to extend the season."
Manchester City’s January Fixtures
January 3rd – Chelsea (A) Premier League
January 6th – Manchester United (A) EFL Cup semi-final
January 10th – Birmingham (H) FA Cup 3rd round
January 13th – Brighton (H) Premier League
January 17th – Crystal Palace (H) Premier League
January 20th – Aston Villa (H) Premier League
January 23rd – FA Cup 4th round
January 26th – West Brom (A) Premier League
January 30th – Sheffield United (H) Premier League
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