Everton are going to take advantage of an unexpected break in the calendar with a trip to Dubai for some warmer weather. More and more clubs have been doing this in recent times with the Premier League being the only one of the 'Top Five' in Europe that does not have a winter break.
The Blues went to Qatar last season, and fans had questioned the wisdom of the move after a truly miserable holiday period last year. However, the players came back refreshed and though they didn't end the season well, the team bonding seemed to have moved up a notch.
The season before the Toffees had gone to Tenerife for a few days, and mounted a spirited charge up the table that eventually faltered in May, but got the Blues very close to qualifying for the Champions League.
Saturday's FA Cup game against Bournemouth is the last one before the break. Everton are without a game between February 20 and March 1, and will be in Dubai for four days. With some relaxation and warm weather training on the cards, the hope is that the Blues can still make something positive out of this season even as it threatens to get out of hand.
Sunderland will be going to Dubai while their neighbors Newcastle United go to southern Spain. Stoke City will also head for Dubai. Surprise League leaders Leicester City are also said to be planning a trip abroad. Liverpool have been prevented from following suit even though they are out of the FA Cup because they have two Europa League ties against Augsburg to play.
The Premier League has been wide open this season, and a winning streak at an opportune time can still see the Blues climb the table into a European spot, and a spot at Wembley for the semis of the FA Cup is also just two wins away. Hopefully the mid-winter break can refresh the focus of both the players and the manager Roberto Martinez.