Premier League health check: What state are the division’s World Cup players in?

From 2022 the wheels of the squads flying home from the World Cup barely touched the asphalt.

However, the attention of many players has already shifted to club football.

Just as the players had a week to prepare between the final Premier League match and the opening World Cup group games, there are just eight days between Sunday’s World Cup final and the division’s Boxing Day match, with an unprecedented turnaround between the international and club football. .

The Premier League had the most representatives in 2022. in the world championship, highlighting his dominance in the top table of the domestic game. As the only league with more than 100 players represented, 134 Premier League players have flown to Qatar, bringing the total to 133 after… well, you know, Cristiano Ronaldo’s business.

This is a domestic season unlike any other, so don’t be surprised if we see a change of narrative in the ‘second act’ of this Premier League campaign.

Momentum can be a powerful thing in football.

For the likes of Aston Villa, Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers, the six-week World Cup break may have come at the perfect time for Unai Emery, Nathan Jones and Julen Lopetegui to assess their new teams as newly appointed managers.

For other clubs, such as Arsenal and Newcastle United, the same break could have disrupted the form of the two teams in front of it, the only two teams unbeaten in their last five Premier League games.

Good, bad or in between, let’s check in with the Premier League quickly.

Who had the most players in Qatar? Which players have the most minutes on the legs? Most importantly, does everyone come back healthy from the World Cup?


Getting called up to the national team is one thing, getting minutes on the pitch for your country is another.

How The Athletic. emphasized last week, almost 100 outfield players did not take the field competitively in Qatar. In England, it was James Maddison from Leicester City, Everton loanee Conor Coady from Wolves and Conor Gallagher from Chelsea.

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Regardless of how many minutes each player has played, watching several members of their squad leave for international duty is enough to make local coaches feel uneasy.

Pep Guardiola has lost the most squad members to his national squad, with 16 Manchester City players jetting off to Qatar – ahead of Manchester United (14 if you count Ronaldo), Chelsea (12) and Tottenham Hotspur (11).

Meanwhile, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Southampton had the fewest disruptions to their squads, losing just two players each.

Unsurprisingly, the Argentinian cohort of Premier League players are among those who have racked up minutes for their country, with Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton), Cristian Romero (Spurs) and Julian Alvarez (Manchester City) behind Emiliano Martinez’s 690 minutes on the pitch. most Premier League players.

Martinez said before the tournament that there was a “good chance” his nation would win it and the Villa goalkeeper saw his claim through to the end as he played every minute for Argentina in the dramatic triumph, including two draws that went to penalties. He played a key role in the final against France, with a world-class save from Randall Kolo Muani in the dying moments of extra time, followed by a shootout to deny Kingsley Coman.

Meanwhile, Spurs manager Antonio Conte will not be too pleased to see four of his top-minute players – Ivan Perisic (Croatia), Hugo Lloris (France) and Harry Kane (England) join Romero in the top 20.

Conte highlighted how tired his squad were against the international break began on November 13 With Lloris and Romero in contention until the last kick of the tournament, the spine of the Tottenham team is filled with fatigue as they return to club action.

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Finally, Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk is in the top seven for the most minutes played by an outfield player from the Premier League, having played every moment in five games for the Netherlands.

This is especially noticeable in light of the latest findings from FIFPro, the world’s professional football association Van Dijk has played the most minutes of all 32 World Cup squads since the beginning of last season for club and country.


Putting it all together at team level can determine who will return to Premier League action with the most fatigue associated with the World Cup.

Unsurprisingly, champions City have the most minutes in the tournament as they have had the most players on international duty. They are ahead of Manchester rivals United, with Alvarez and Raphael Varane respectively representing both clubs at the start of the World Cup finals.

Just out of curiosity, what would that look like based on the current league position?

Of the top six clubs, Arsenal, Newcastle and Liverpool, in particular, should be the most satisfied with the number of game minutes their players get in Qatar, compared to United, Spurs, City and Chelsea”.

Newcastle’s pursuit of a place in Europe appears to have been unscathed over the past month as they have played just 458 accumulated World Cup minutes – the fewest of the current top 10 Premier League sides and the third fewest in the division.

While he’s not technically a Newcastle player yet, his move from Australia’s Central Coast Mariners in the A-League will become official when January 1st. the window will open – 18-year-old striker Garang Kuolas changed the reserves twice. shows in Australia.

Meanwhile, despite the few minutes played, Arsenal can’t count on their luck following the events of the past month as they lost the lead. Gabriel Jesus suffered a knee injury while playing for Brazil in their group game against Cameroon.

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Jesus has since undergone surgery and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta’s prognosis for a return to action remains uncertain.

“We know he needed an intervention in the knee. We’ll have to take it day by day, week by week and see (where) it takes us. Arteta said.

“It affects who we are as a team because he gives us so much, so what we can do after we know (his recovery) time and when we can get him back, we’ll look at the options.” and try to make the right decision.”

Elsewhere, Nottingham Forest’s Cheikhou Kouyate tore a hamstring while playing for Senegal in their opening group game against the Netherlands, while Tottenham’s Richarlison will be out for several weeks with his own hamstring injury in Brazil’s quarter-final defeat to Croatia.

Quite simply, not all players return to their clubs healthy.


Whatever fitness the players return to after their exploits in Qatar, clubs’ medical staff will need to carefully manage their training programs to minimize the risk of injury.

With the Premier League back in a few days, many clubs have taken part in warm-weather training camps and behind-closed-doors friendlies to get their players back up to speed after some more than a month without a game. .

Research has highlighted the importance of the pre-season, not only to establish basic fitness norms, but also to prevent injuries during the competition season. In this case, club sports and science teams are faced with something almost pre-season which acts as a ‘supplement’ to the players’ preparation to ensure they maintain their highest level of fitness.

Late returners who have been out longer at the World Cup will need to be carefully assessed when they rejoin the squad or risk further injury over the remaining five months of the season.

(Best photos: Getty Images)



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