The Beast from the East arrives; Swansea beat Sheffield Wednesday; Alderweireld to miss Spurs clash with Juventus; winter break plans

Good morning and welcome to Wednesday.

Dublin is completely covered in a beautiful blanket of snow this morning. I haven’t seen this amount of snow in quite a few years, and I love it! I probably won’t be saying that when I’m trying to get to and from work, but how and ever! We’re not very good at dealing with snow in Ireland, and when it gets really bad everything shuts down. Most schools are closed now, and transport is running with disruptions, but it seems to be OK for the most part. It’s due to get bad later, so I hope I won’t get stranded in work and face a three hour walk home. We’ll see how it goes, but I suppose I’ll have to battle on through!

There’s a bit of panic throughout the country at the moment, as people stock up for days and days of not being able to leave their house. Many shops sold out of bread and milk in the last few days. Could these people not live without a ham sandwich? There’s pans of bread being sold online at the moment, with the asking price being €150! I’ll take four please.

On with football now, and Swansea beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 at the Liberty Stadium last night to reach the FA Cup quarter final. Second half goals from Jordan Ayew and Nathan Dyer gave them the win. I didn’t see any of it, and I’m quite thankful for that because I heard it wasn’t the best of games at all. The first half in particular was supposed o be really bad. Swansea won’t really mind that though, as they will now host the winner of Spurs vs Rochdale, who play tonight at Wembley, in the quarter final at the Liberty Stadium.

Spurs struggled through the first game against Rochdale, and drew 2-2. They went 1-0 behind at Spotland Stadium, but took control of the second half and lead 2-1 before Rochdale scored a last minute equaliser. I can’t see that happening again tonight, as Spurs should have far too much at Wembley for their League One opponents. Spurs will more than likely rotate tonight, as Mauricio Pochettino will know his second string squad should easily get the job done.

Staying with Spurs, and Mauricio Pochettino says that Toby Alderweireld will miss Spurs’ Champions League last 16 tie against Juventus. The defender has picked up a hamstring injury, which sounds quite bad. When Pochettino was asked whether Alderweireld would be fit for the game, he said: “He is still not participating with the group.” He added: “The answer is clear”, which suggests that he definitely won’t play. Alderweireld missed three months of the season, and returned at the beginning of February when Spurs played Newport. He was out with a hamstring injury, and he has now injured a different part of the same hamstring. It is unclear how much longer he will be out for.

“Sometimes we are confused about what it means to be fit,” Pochettino said. “After you tear the muscle, you can be fit to participate in training but then it’s to be fit to play and then [to be fit] to compete.

“Sometimes the people create an expectation and then we are the bad guys when we say: ‘No, you cannot play,’ or: ‘We start to build your fitness step by step.’

“We don’t take our decisions based on public opinion. When we take them, it’s because we have assessed and analysed. We look after the whole situation, not just a bit of it. The people see this player is fit and he should play. It’s not like that, especially with this kind of injury.”

It’s a big blow for Spurs, who will be without their best defender for the next while. We can only hope that he won’t be out for too long.

It was announced yesterday that there are plans for a winter break to take place for Premier League clubs from the 2019-20 season. Fixtures would be split over two weekends at the beginning of February, with five games being played on each. This would mean there wouldn’t be any weekends without Premier League football, while also allowing every club to have at least 13 days off between matches. The reason is that this break would likely help England compete at Euro 2020 and future major tournaments.

I think it’s a good idea to be honest, and it could really help English clubs playing in Europe. All of the other major European League have a winter break, and this helps their sides in the latter rounds of the Champions League and Europa League. The English sides getting a bit of a break could help them recover from a busy festive fixture list, and give them a bit more in the latter stages of the season.

One thing that I’m not sure about is that they are saying FA Cup fifth round replays could be scrapped. This would also be a good thing for Premier League sides, but lower league clubs are against the idea because they face losing out on quite a bit of money if replays are scrapped. I agree with them to be honest, as getting a draw against a Premier League side and being able to play them again can help a struggling club survive when ticket sales and TV money are taken into account.

Not having these replays would take that away from them, and they could really struggle as a result. The Premier League clubs will definitely back this idea, and with me writing a blog about the Premier League I probably should as well. But the idea doesn’t really sit right with me. I think we’ll see the replays scrapped anyway, but I hope they can do something to help the lower league clubs out if they’re doing that.

Darryl Eales, the owner of League One side Oxford United, says it would really hurt the likes of his club. He says that if they’re going to get rid of the replays, all proceeds from the fifth round games should be split evenly between both clubs, with the winner receiving nothing extra. I think that could be a good idea as well, but good luck getting everybody to agree to that. The bigger clubs will be saying that they shouldn’t lose out on money either, which I also understand. I’m not quite sure what they’re going to do to soften the blow to the lower league clubs, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Anyway, that’s all from me this morning because I have to get myself organised for work a bit earlier than usual because of the snow. If you’re off work/college/school today and you have a pair of skis go out there and make use of them! If you have to go out anywhere take care on the roads. I’ll be back in the morning as always, with news throughout the day on Twitter. Until then.

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