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…
There has long 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 affected, 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. And here is the latest World Cup squad news.
20) Bournemouth – five in contention: two probables, three possibles
Probables: Chris Mepham and Kieffer Moore (Wales); Possibles: Philip Billing (Denmark), Marcos Senesi (Argentina), David Brooks (Wales)
Senesi was 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 alongside Mepham and Moore while he continues to build up his fitness after being declared cancer-free. But Billing is in with a good chance of making Denmark’s final cut after being named in their most recent squad.
19) Southampton – four in contention: two probables, two possibles
Probables: James Ward-Prowse (England), Mohammed Salisu (Ghana) Possibles: Walker-Peters (England), Armel Bella-Kotchap (Germany)
Walker-Peters is an almost-certainly-not for England after taking his place among the growing ranks of injured England right-backs by suffering hamstring twang against Bournemouth. After resisting call-ups for the last three years, Salisu suddenly decided he was bang up for Ghana after they qualified for Qatar. Odd that. Bella-Kotchap has a big old question mark against his name after dislocating his shoulder.
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. Bowen has struggled to replicate last season’s output which perhaps puts a question mark over his place in Southgate’s squad.
16) Brentford – seven in contention: five probables, two possibles
Probables: Christian Norgaard, Mathias Jensen, Mikkel Damsgaard (Denmark), Bryan Mbeumo (Cameroon), Saman Ghoddos (Iran); Possibles: David Raya (Spain), Ivan Toney (England)
The Bees’ Danish contingent are all expected to make it while Raya was in the latest 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. And now Ivan Toney has at least an outside chance after his maiden call-up.
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 – ten in contention: five probables, five possibles
Probables: Wayne Hennessey, Neco Williams, Brennan Johnson (Wales), Remo Freuler (Switzerland), Cheikhou Koyate (Senegal); Possibles: Dean Henderson, Jesse Lingard (England), Orel Mangala (Belgium), Moussa Niakhate (Senegal), Renan Lodi (Brazil)
Freuler and Williams are perhaps the only Forest representatives likely to start in Qatar, but there are plenty of players in there with half a chance. That’s what happens when you have 427 players.
13) Newcastle United – six in contention: four probables, two possibles
Probables: Nick Pope and Kieran Trippier (England), Fabian Schar (Switzerland), Bruno Guimaraes (Brazil); Possibles: Sven Botman (Netherlands), Joelinton (Brazil)
Bruno Guimaraes was in the last Brazil squad despite missing the start of the season, while Joelinton continues to be ignored by their countries so remain outsiders for a spot. Botman remains uncapped by the Netherlands but was named in a provisional 39-man squad last month. Trippier, meanwhile, may well soon be England’s last remaining uninjured full-back and required to play both left and right-back in Qatar.
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 – he was listed in a 44-man squad as claimed by Bild – while Llorente is very much on the fringes of Spain’s squad.
11) Fulham – nine in contention: six probables, three possibles
Probables: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Serbia), Harry Wilson and Dan James (Wales), Antonee Robinson (USA), Joao Palhinha (Portugal), Kevin Mbabu (Switzerland); Possibles: Kenny Tete (Netherlands), Tim Ream (USA), Luke Harris (Wales)
Ream has seemingly run out of time but Harris has given himself an outside chance with a shock Wales call-up. Marco Silva doubled his World Cup headache with his summer transfer business.
10) Leicester – eight in contention: five probables, three possibles
Probables: Danny Ward (Wales), Youri Tielemans and Timothy Castagne (Belgium), Daniel Amartey (Ghana), Nampalys Mendy (Senegal); Possibles: Dennis Praet and Wout Faes (Belgium), Jannik Vestergaard (Denmark).
Faes was named in Belgium’s latest squad though Praet missed out, along with Vestergaard – dropped by Denmark after failing to get near Leicester’s rotten first XI. 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.
8) Aston Villa – 10 in contention: five probables, five possibles
Probables: Emiliano Martinez (Argentina), Jan Bednarek and Matty Cash (Poland), Lucas Digne (France), Leander Dendoncker (Belgium); Possibles: Emi Buendia (Argentina), Douglas Luiz (Brazil), Philippe Coutinho (Brazil), Tyrone Mings and 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 again, with Southgate admitting others are ‘slightly ahead’. New Villa boss Unai Emery may discover he’s actually more reliant on the ‘possibles’ than the ‘probables’.
7) Liverpool – 12 in contention: seven probables, five possibles
Probables: Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino (Brazil), Virgil Van Dijk (Netherlands), Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold (England), Darwin Nunez (Uruguay); Possibles: Thiago (Spain), Ibrahima Konate (France), Arthur Melo (Brazil), Fabio Carvalho (Portugal), Harvey Elliott (England).
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. Probably Saliba. Diogo Jota has unfortunately been ruled out with a bad calf injury.
6) Wolves – 10 in contention: five probables, five possibles
Probables: Ruben Neves, Matheus Nunes, Jose Sa (Portugal), Raul Jimenez (Mexico), Hwang Hee-chan (South Korea); Possibles: Joao Moutinho, Goncalo Guedes, Daniel Podence, Nelson Semedo (Portugal), Adama Traore (Spain)
Wolves had four men in the latest Portugal squad, with Moutinho and Guedes axed after a slow start to the season. Pedro Neto has since been ruled out of the tournament as he needs surgery on an ankle injury.
5) Arsenal – 13 in contention: nine probables, four possibles
Probables: Aaron Ramsdale, Bukayo Saka and Ben White (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. White’s versatility and the mounting list of injuries to other England defenders probably get him in to the squad, while Gareth Southgate will be hugely relieved to see Bukayo Saka swiftly back in action for Arsenal. Vieira is a long-shot for the Portugal squad having not yet received a senior call-up.
4) Tottenham – 13 in contention: 11 probables, two possibles
Probables: Harry Kane and Eric Dier (England), Heung-min Son (South Korea), Hugo Lloris (France), Richarlison (Brazil), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Denmark), Ivan Perisic (Croatia), Cristian Romero (Argentina), Rodrigo Bentancur (Uruguay), Pape Matar Sarr (Senegal), Ben Davies (Wales); Possibles: 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 has earned 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. A nation holds its breath as Son Heung-min undergoes surgery for a fracture around his left eye, but you sort of think that come what may he’ll be masked up and wheeled out at the World Cup. Richarlison is expected to win his fitness race and is nailed on to be selected if so having firmly established himself as the focal point of Brazil’s attack recently. Rodrigo Bentancur and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg both picked up injuries against Marseille in that dramatic Champions League clash so it’s a bit wait and see there, while Cristian Romero should be fine for Argentina but won’t feature again for Spurs before the World Cup.
3) Manchester United – 16 in contention: 11 probables, five possibles
Probables: Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes (Portugal), Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw (England), Raphael Varane (France), Lisandro Martinez (Argentina), Christian Eriksen (Denmark), Tyrell Malacia (Netherlands), Facundo Pellistri (Uruguay), Casemiro, Fred and Antony (Brazil); Possibles: Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho (England), David De Gea (Spain), Diogo Dalot (Portugal)
Some big names in that United squad sweating on a World Cup place, including a couple of England hopefuls. Rashford is doing his bit; Sancho hasn’t caught fire yet this season. Shaw should make it even without the doubts surrounding countless other England full-backs most notably Ben Chilwell. 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), Mason Mount and 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), Reece James, Ben Chilwell and 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. James and Chilwell would, obviously, be certainties for the England squad but for injuries.
1) Manchester City – 16 in contention, all probables
Probables: Kyle Walker, John Stones, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Kalvin Phillips (England), Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias and Bernardo Silva (Portugal), Rodri and Aymeric Laporte (Spain), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium), Ederson (Brazil), Ilkay Gundogan (Germany), Julian Alvarez (Argentina), Manuel Akanji (Switzerland), Nathan Ake (Netherlands)
Alvarez was a ‘possible’ prior to being named in Argentina’s squad for the autumn 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.
There are fitness doubts over Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips, of course, but both are sure things if those can be assuaged.
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