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) Southampton – three in contention: two probables, one possible
Probables: James Ward-Prowse (England), Mohammed Salisu (Ghana) Possible: Armel Bella-Kotchap (Germany)
It went from ‘low to no’ chance for Kyle Walker-Peters because of a hamstring injury. 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 was back from a shoulder injury in time to be given the run-around by Newcastle.
19) 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, with five spots still up for grabs.
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 was already struggling to prove his fitness before he went off against Leicester on Saturday, and Onana is waiting on a scan after being injured against the Foxes.
17) Crystal Palace – six in contention: four probables, two possibles
Probables: Joachim Andersen (Denmark), Marc Guehi (England), Luka Milivojevic (Serbia), Jordan Ayew (Ghana); Possibles: Sam Johnstone, Tyrick Mitchell (England).
Andersen is in for Denmark and Guehi has played every minute for Palace as he looks to cement his place in England’s squad.
16) West Ham – seven in contention: four probables, three possibles
Probables: Declan Rice (England), Lucas Paqueta (Brazil), Thilo Kehrer (Germany), Nayef Aguerd (Morocco); Possibles: Jarrod Bowen (England), Alphonse Areola (France), Pablo Fornals (Spain)
David Moyes says the Hammers are getting Aguerd ‘completely ready’ for Morocco. Bowen has struggled to replicate last season’s output which perhaps puts a question mark over his place in Southgate’s squad. He was especially poor last weekend.
15) Brentford – seven in contention: six probables, one possible
Probables: Christian Norgaard, Mathias Jensen, Mikkel Damsgaard (Denmark), Bryan Mbeumo (Cameroon), Saman Ghoddos (Iran), David Raya (Spain). Possible: Ivan Toney (England)
Jensen and Damsgaard are in Denmark’s initial squad, with Norgaard hoping to take one of the five remaining spots but his fitness is a worry. Raya is almost certain to be among Spain’s three keepers. 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.
14) Nottingham Forest – nine in contention: five probables, four 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).
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 – five in contention: four probables, one possible
Probables: Nick Pope, Kieran Trippier (England), Fabian Schar (Switzerland), Bruno Guimaraes (Brazil); Possibles: Sven Botman (Netherlands)
Bruno Guimaraes is in the Brazil squad but Joelinton misses out. Botman remains uncapped by the Netherlands but was named in a provisional 39-man squad. 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)
Kristensen is in for Denmark while Koch’s form gives him a chance of a Germany recall – he was listed in a 44-man squad as claimed by Bild. Llorente and Rodrigo are reportedly on Spain’s 55-man list. They’ll find out if they have made the cut this week.
11) Leicester – nine in contention: five probables, four possibles
Probables: Danny Ward (Wales), Youri Tielemans, Timothy Castagne (Belgium), Daniel Amartey (Ghana), Nampalys Mendy (Senegal); Possibles: James Maddison (England), Dennis Praet, Wout Faes (Belgium), Jannik Vestergaard (Denmark).
Faes was named in Belgium’s latest squad and he was superb at Everton on Saturday, when Praet was missing because of the birth of his child. Vestergaard is struggling having been left out of Denmark’s initial party following a lack of action at Leicester. James Maddison should be in England’s squad but almost certainly won’t be.
Read more: Maddison next for snub? England top scorers in tournament years reveals some shocking decisions
10) 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 Estupinan, Jeremy Sarmiento (Ecuador), Kaoru Mitoma (Japan) Possible: Joel Veltman (Netherlands).
Mitoma is in Japan’s squad while Mac Allister is well-placed to board Argentina’s plane 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.
9) Aston Villa – nine in contention: five probables, four possibles
Probables: Emiliano Martinez (Argentina), Jan Bednarek, Matty Cash (Poland), Lucas Digne (France), Leander Dendoncker (Belgium); Possibles: Emi Buendia (Argentina), Boubakar Kamara (France), Tyrone Mings, Ollie Watkins (England).
Philippe Coutinho and Douglas Luiz both missed out on the Brazil squad. Mings is in a spot of bother after he was left out of the recent Nations League fixtures, 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’.
8) Fulham – 10 in contention: six probables, four 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), Bernd Leno (Germany)
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.
7) 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.
6) Liverpool – 10 in contention: six probables, four possibles
Probables: Alisson, Fabinho (Brazil), Virgil Van Dijk (Netherlands), Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold (England), Darwin Nunez (Uruguay); Possibles: Thiago (Spain), Ibrahima Konate (France), 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, Roberto Firmino 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.
5) Arsenal – 11 in contention: 10 probables, one possible
Probables: Aaron Ramsdale, Bukayo Saka, Ben White (England), Granit Xhaka (Switzerland), Thomas Partey (Ghana), Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli (Brazil), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Japan), Matt Turner (USA), William Saliba (France); Possibles: Fabio Vieira (Portugal)
Martinelli and Gabriel made the Brazil cut but Gabriel Magalhaes did not. White’s versatility and the mounting list of injuries to other England defenders probably get him in to the squad, while Southgate will be hugely relieved to see Bukayo Saka swiftly back in action for Arsenal but Emile Smith Rowe is crocked. Vieira is a long-shot for the Portugal squad having not yet received a senior call-up.
4) Tottenham – 12 in contention: 11 probables, one possibles
Probables: Harry Kane, 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: 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 reasonably solid in Spurs’ defence while some of Southgate’s other options flounder. 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 in Brazil’s squad. Rodrigo Bentancur and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg both picked up injuries against Marseille in that dramatic Champions League clash but the latter is in the Denmark party, while Cristian Romero should be fine for Argentina but won’t feature again for Spurs before the World Cup.
3) Manchester United – 15 in contention: 12 probables, three possibles
Probables: Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes (Portugal), Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw (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 (England), Diogo Dalot (Portugal)
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. Brazil are taking all three United hopefuls, and Eriksen is in the Denmark squad, while Varane is set to recover from a hamstring problem.
2) Chelsea – 16 in contention: 12 probables, four possibles
Probables: Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal), 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), Reece James, 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. James could yet make it; Chilwell will not.
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 ‘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.
Read more: World Cup squads: latest news on who’s going to Qatar, and when we’ll discover who’s not…