For some managers, the World Cup will be a lovely break. Others will be fretting like f***. Here’s how we’ve ranked the clubs by how much they might be affected…
Long before the recent Premier League postponements there has been concern over what a mid-season World Cup would mean for Premier League clubs and their players.
Some clubs can afford to be quite relaxed about it all. Others have rather more to worry about when it comes to fixture congestion and player burn-out.
Here’s how we’ve ranked the Premier League clubs on how much they will be effected, from Bournemouth and Saints looking forward to a month with their feet up, to the big boys just waiting to get their excuses in.
Oh and here’s a list of very good players definitely *not* going.
20) Bournemouth – four in contention: one probable, three possibles
Probables: Chris Mepham (Wales); Possibles: Philip Billing (Denmark), Marcos Senesi (Argentina), David Brooks (Wales)
Senesi has been left out of the Argentina squad for the last friendlies before the finals while, wonderful story though it would be, Brooks is a rank outsider to make Wales’ squad while he continues to build up his fitness after being declared cancer-free. Billing is in with a good chance of making Denmark’s final cut having been named in their squads earlier this year.
19) Southampton – three in contention: two probables, one possible
Probables: James Ward-Prowse (England), Mohammed Salisu (Ghana) Possibles: Walker-Peters (England)
Walker-Peters is an almost-certainly-not for England. Salisu is yet to make his Ghana debut after resisting call-ups for the last three years, but after they qualified for Qatar, the defender suddenly decided he was bang up for it. Some of the Saints’ most impressive performers this season, like Armel Bella-Kotchap and Romeo Lavia, remain in their nations’ Under-21s for now. Their other internationals didn’t qualify for Qatar, which probably suits Ralph Hasenhuttl just fine.
18) Everton – six in contention: three probables, three possibles
Probables: Idrissa Gueye (Senegal), Jordan Pickford, Conor Coady (England); Possibles: Dominic Calvert-Lewin, James Tarkowski (England), Amadou Onana (Belgium)
Gareth Southgate loves Coady and his leadership could be seen as vital if he’s surrounded by younger centre-backs in the England squad. Calvert-Lewin is running out of time, if he hasn’t already, but Onana might fancy his chances if he maintains his fine start, having made his Belgium debut in the summer.
17) West Ham – seven in contention: three probables, four possibles
Probables: Declan Rice (England), Lucas Paqueta (Brazil), Thilo Kehrer (Germany); Possibles: Jarrod Bowen (England), Alphonse Areola (France), Pablo Fornals (Spain), Nayef Aguerd (Morocco)
Aguerd would be a cert for Morocco but there are doubts he will return from injury before Qatar. Even if he does, he would have to dislodge Kurt Zouma and Kehrer to display his fitness. Bowen has struggled to replicate last season’s output which perhaps puts a question mark over his place in Southgate’s squad.
16) Brentford – five in contention: five probables, one possible
Probables: Christian Norgaard, Mathias Jensen, Mikkel Damsgaard (Denmark), Bryan Mbeumo (Cameroon), Saman Ghoddos (Iran); Possibles: David Raya (Spain)
The Bees’ Danish contingent are all expected to make it while Raya was in the last Spain squad for the Nations League fixtures after making his international debut in March. Mbeumo switched allegiance to Cameroon in the summer so, presumably, he’s been given the nod for Qatar.
15) Crystal Palace – eight in contention: four probables, four possibles
Probables: Joachim Andersen (Denmark), Marc Guehi (England), Luka Milivojevic (Serbia), Jordan Ayew (Ghana); Possibles: Sam Johnstone, Tyrick Mitchell (England), Chris Richards (USA), Jeffrey Schlupp (Ghana)
Guehi has played every minute for Palace as he looks to cement his place in England’s squad. In contrast, Richards perhaps hasn’t had the minutes yet that he needed to make sure of a seat on USA’s plane.
14) Nottingham Forest – eight in contention: five probables, three possibles
Probables: Wayne Hennessey, Neco Williams, Brennan Johnson (Wales), Remo Freuler (Switzerland), Cheikhou Koyate (Senegal); Possibles: Dean Henderson, Jesse Lingard (England), Orel Mangala (Belgium)
To say that Forest’s three possibles are long shots to make their respective squads is putting a very positive spin on their predicaments. Freuler and Williams are perhaps the only Forest representatives likely to start in Qatar.
13) Newcastle United – eight in contention: six probables, two possibles
Probables: Alexander Isak, Emil Krafth (Sweden), Nick Pope, Kieran Trippier (England), Fabian Schar (Switzerland), Bruno Guimaraes (Brazil); Possibles: Sven Botman (Netherlands), Joelinton (Brazil)
Bruno Guimaraes has made the Brazil squad for the final friendlies despite missing Newcastle’s last three games with a hamstring injury. Summer signings Isak and Pope are sure to be in Sweden and England’s squads respectively. Botman has been called up to the senior Netherlands squad but is yet to make his debut after representing all youth squads since Under-15.
12) Leeds United – seven in contention: four probables, three possibles
Probables: Brenden Aaronson, Tyler Adams (USA), Rasmus Kristensen (Denmark), Mateusz Klich (Poland); Possibles: Robin Koch (Germany), Rodrigo, Diego Llorente (Spain)
Koch’s form gives him a chance of a Germany recall while Llorente is very much on the cusp of Spain’s squad despite an iffy start to the season.
11) Fulham – eight in contention: six probables, two possibles
Probables: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Serbia), Harry Wilson, Dan James (Wales), Antonee Robinson (USA), Joao Palhinha (Portugal), Kevin Mbabu (Switzerland); Possibles: Kenny Tete (Netherlands), Tim Ream (USA)
Ream hasn’t been in a USA squad this year but his form for Fulham since returning to the Premier League suggests he would be worthy of a place. Marco Silva doubled his World Cup headache with his summer transfer business.
10) Leicester – eight in contention: six probables, two possibles
Probables: Danny Ward (Wales), Youri Tielemans, Timothy Castagne (Belgium), Jannik Vestergaard (Denmark), Daniel Amartey (Ghana), Nampalys Mendy (Senegal); Possibles: Dennis Praet, Wout Faes (Belgium),
Praet and Faes may be lacking the minutes they need to enhance their claims from a place in Roberto Martinez’s squad, even if both were briefly involved in the summer internationals. By the time the World Cup comes around, most of this lot will probably welcome some respite from a Premier League relegation battle.
9) Brighton – nine in contention: eight probables, one possible
Probables: Alexis Mac Allister (Argentina), Robert Sanchez (Spain), Tariq Lamptey (Ghana), Leandro Trossard (Belgium), Moises Caicedo, Pervis Estupian, Jeremy Sarmiento (Ecuador), Kaoru Mitoma (Japan) Possible: Joel Veltman (Netherlands).
Mac Allister made Argentina’s squad for the final pre-World Cup friendlies and his form for Brighton suggests he’s well-placed for Qatar. Veltman is loved at Brighton but he doesn’t have the same reputation in Holland and hasn’t been in a Dutch squad this year. The Seagulls’ Ecuadorian trio could yet remain at home if FIFA make them.
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8) Aston Villa – 13: seven in contention: seven probables, six possibles
Probables: Emiliano Martinez (Argentina), Robin Olsen, Ludwig Augustinsson (Sweden), Jan Bednarek, Matty Cash (Poland), Lucas Digne (France), Leander Dendoncker (Belgium); Possibles: Emi Buendia (Argentina), Douglas Luiz (Brazil), Boubakar Kamara (France), Philippe Coutinho (Brazil), Tyrone Mings, Ollie Watkins (England)
Coutinho and Mings are both in a spot of bother after the former was omitted from Brazil’s latest squad amid a poor run of Villa form while the England defender was left out of the Nations League fixtures in June, with Southgate admitting others are ‘slightly ahead’. Steven Gerrard is arguably more reliant on the ‘possibles’ than the ‘probables’.
7) Liverpool – 12 in contention: eight probables, four possibles
Probables: Alisson, Fabinho, Roberto Firmino (Brazil), Virgil Van Dijk (Netherlands), Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold (England), Diogo Jota (Portugal), Darwin Nunez (Uruguay); Possibles: Thiago (Spain), Ibrahima Konate (France), Arthur Melo (Brazil), Fabio Carvalho (Portugal)
Jurgen Klopp is unlikely to be affected as badly as some of the other Big Six bosses. Indeed, of Liverpool’s regulars, Mo Salah, Luis Diaz and Andy Robertson will all have their feet up, so he can afford to be reasonably relaxed, even if he says he’s not: “It’s really, really hard, but that’s the situation and it’s the same for all of us and that’s the only good thing about it.” Konate is being ‘followed’ by Didier Deschamps but the France boss said in the summer that playing in a back four hadn’t helped the Reds’ defender’s cause and it is ‘one or the other’ between him and Saliba.
6) Wolves – 11 in contention: seven probables, four possibles
Probables: Ruben Neves, Matheus Nunes, Joao Moutinho, Goncalo Guedes, Jose Sa (Portugal), Raul Jimenez (Mexico), Hwang Hee-chan (South Korea); Possibles: Pedro Neto, Daniel Podence, Nelson Semedo (Portugal), Adama Traore (Spain)
The Portuguese possibles are all unlikely to make it so Wolves will just have to make do with five representatives in Fernando Santos’ squad. Bruno Lage might have been happy to see Portugal lose their qualification play-off. If he wasn’t Portuguese.
5) Arsenal – 13 in contention: 10 probables, three possibles
Probables: Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Bukayo Saka (England), Granit Xhaka (Switzerland), Thomas Partey (Ghana), Gabriel Magalhaes, Gabriel Jesus (Brazil), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Japan), Matt Turner (USA), William Saliba (France); Possibles: Gabriel Martinelli (Brazil), Emile Smith-Rowe (England), Fabio Vieira (Portugal)
All three of Arsenal’s representatives missed out on the latest Brazil squad but it looks bleaker for Martinelli than Gabriel and Jesus. Smith Rowe is sweating on the periphery of Southgate’s party, while Vieira is a long-shot for the Portugal squad having not yet received a senior call-up.
4) Tottenham – 14 in contention: 10 probables, three possibles
Probables: Harry Kane (England), Heung-min Son (South Korea), Hugo Lloris (France), Richarlison (Brazil), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Denmark), Ivan Perisic (Croatia), Cristian Romero (Argentina), Rodrigo Betancur (Uruguay), Pape Matar Sarr (Senegal), Ben Davies (Wales); Possibles: Eric Dier (England), Emerson Royal (Brazil), Clement Lenglet (France)
Antonio Conte took the opposite approach to Pep Guardiola and ran his troops in the summer to bank the fitness in the knowledge they will need it. Dier is doing all he can to earn an England recall by looking solid in Spurs’ defence while some of Southgate’s other options flounder. Royal and Lenglet aren’t quite as hopeful.
3) Manchester United – 18 in contention: 13 probables, five possibles
Probables: Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes (Portugal), Victor Lindelof, Anthony Elanga (Sweden), Harry Maguire (England), Raphael Varane (France), Lisandro Martinez (Argentina), Christian Eriksen (Denmark), Tyrell Malacia (Netherlands), Facundo Pellistri (Uruguay), Casemiro, Fred, Antony (Brazil); Possibles: Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Luke Shaw (England), David De Gea (Spain), Diogo Dalot (Portugal)
Some big names in that United squad sweating on a World Cup place, including the England trio. Rashford is doing his bit; Sancho hasn’t caught fire yet this season; while Shaw is playing second-fiddle at left-back. It is possible that 10 of Erik ten Hag’s current first XI will be going to Qatar, but for four it is touch and go.
2) Chelsea – 17 in contention: 14 probables, three possibles
Probables: Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal), Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling (England), Cesar Azpilicueta (Spain), Thiago Silva (Brazil), N’Golo Kante (France), Christian Pulisic (USA), Kai Havertz (Germany), Matteo Kovacic (Croatia), Hakim Ziyech (Morocco), Denis Zakaria (Switzerland); Possibles: Marc Cucurella (Spain), Conor Gallagher (England), Wesley Fofana (France)
“It will have a huge impact emotionally and physically on the players; they will come back drained,” said Thomas Tuchel on how the World Cup will affect Chelsea. “Big success and huge disappointment can also drain them mentally, and then days later we have Boxing Day. I’m a bit uncertain about all this.” Tuchel may be gone but Graham Potter will almost certainly share his concerns.
1) Manchester City – 16 in contention, all probables
Probables: Kyle Walker, John Stones, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Kalvin Phillips (England), Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva (Portugal), Rodri, Aymeric Laporte (Spain), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium), Ederson (Brazil), Ilkay Gundogan (Germany), Julian Alvarez (Argentina), Manuel Akanji (Switzerland), Nathan Ake (Netherlands)
Alvarez was a probably prior to being named in Argentina’s squad for the upcoming friendlies. Given the number of Citizens going to the World Cup, Pep Guardiola brought his squad back a little later after the summer and attempted to mitigate any burn-out with a lighter-than-normal pre-season schedule. “We will not be thinking one second about what is going to happen at the World Cup, like the World Cup is not going to think one second about what is going to happen in the second part of the season for the clubs,” said Guardiola in August. We call bullsh*t.