I have thought for years that the games top players play too many games. As a young kid, I used to follow Leeds United in the 70's and they used to have the same line up pretty much week in week out, unless there was an injury. Now with the additional European games, more international games and friendlies as well as overseas tours (mostly for financial reasons), top players end up having more games to play. Then add to this that the game is now faster and requires a greater physical effort and you can see that a lot more is required of players now than a few decades ago.
Various players and managers of the EPL have, over time, often spoke out about the need for a "winter break" of a couple of weeks. But again, financial reasons mean it is unlikely to ever happen. The EPL actually schedules more games over the Christmas and New Year period as those games traditionally bring in higher attendances and the clubs won't want to do without the additional income those games produce.
When Patrick Vieira arrived to play for Arsenal in the EPL, he was shocked at the physical effort it required and it was pretty well known that he would purposely get himself red carded in games around Dec/Jan so he could take the rest his body needed. In fact, if I remember correctly, Vieira also asked Arsenal if he could take a break right at the start of the season one time. I think it was after the 2002 World Cup and he said he was physically and mentally worn out and hadn't had chance for a break that summer.
Then I read an article on ESPN Soccernet with quotes from Spurs boss, Harry Redknapp. He complains about the scheduling of an England international friendly just three days before Spurs' first game of the season. Apparently he won't have his players on the training field for the week before their first game. Actually he gets them back on the Friday, before the weekend's game.
Redknapp goes on to complain about the scheduling of his own teams pre-season games, which included a tour of the United States and three tough home friendlies against Villarreal, Benfica and Fiorentina.
He says in the article, "It's been busy schlepping around the place," he said. "We've just come back from a gruelling trip around America. It's crazy. And we pile more games in. The last thing we need is to be playing games. We need to train. I need to get the players on the training pitch because all we do is play and recover. We should be working in training. Too many games have been scheduled. I don't know whose fault that is. We play too many games."
One of the things the top clubs have done to combat this problem, is to have a squad situation and not have a starting 11, like Leeds used to have years ago. I remember, when the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool started utilizing a bigger squad and playing different players for different games. Some of the players didn't like it and complained, but I think it is the only way a team can make it through the season with so many games.