As the Premier League prepares to resume, which clubs are likely to be most affected by fatigue and suffer a World Cup hangover? City A.M. crunches the numbers to find out.
No sooner has the ticker tape been cleared from the field of the Lusail Stadium following the World Cup final than the Premier League is gearing up to resume on Boxing Day.
All 20 top-flight clubs had players representing their countries at the World Cup, and because it was held in the winter there is minimal pause before the domestic league starts again.
But some players returned from Qatar far earlier than others, meaning they are likely to be ready for Premier League action.
Those who went all the way to the latter stages, on the other hand, are more likely to be fatigued and may need time off before returning to club action.
So, which clubs have been most severely affected by their players taking part at the World Cup? Using data supplied by analytics company Sporting Risk, City A.M. took a closer look.
Manchester clubs in line for World Cup hangover in Premier League
There are several ways to look at this but, weighing them all up, Manchester United have probably been the worst hit.
Of 14 core first-team players – defined as those to have played 500 minutes or more in the Premier League this season – United has 10 on duty in Qatar.
Nine of them made it to the last 16 or quarter-finals, meaning they were involved in four or five games, and two – Argentina’s Lisandro Martinez and France’s Raphael Varane – all the way to the final.
United, who currently lie fifth in the table, have an extra day off as they do not play Nottingham Forest until 27 December, but that is likely to be of little comfort.
Champions Manchester City have also been badly depleted by the World Cup, where 13 of their 14 first-team regulars were called up by their countries.
More of their players than United’s made it to the last 16 or quarter-finals – 11 – but none went any further than that, meaning they will have had no match for two and a half weeks when second-placed City resume Premier League action at Leeds United on 28 December.
Forward Julian Alvarez lifted the trophy with Argentina but has only played 364 minutes in the Premier League this season.
How London Premier League clubs’ stars fared at World Cup
Chelsea and Arsenal each had nine and eight first-team regulars at the World Cup, with eight and seven progressing to the last 16 or quarter-finals respectively.
Only one man from either side made it to the semi-finals or final, however.
In Chelsea’s case, Mateo Kovacic finished third with Croatia, while Arsenal defender William Saliba was part of France’s run to the final but barely played all tournament.
The Blues, who lie eighth in the table, return to domestic football at home to Bournemouth on 27 December.
Arsenal, who took a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League into the World Cup break, host West Ham United on Boxing Day evening.
Although some teams’ players went deeper into the tournament, the Gunners could argue they have been worst hit as main striker Gabriel Jesus suffered a serious knee injury while on duty with Brazil.
Tottenham Hotspur had the most players involved in the final of any Premier League team involved in the semi-finals, with three.
Defender Cristian Romero lifted the trophy with Argentina, while goalkeeper Hugo Lloris captained France to a runner-up spot and winger Ivan Perisic finished third with Croatia.
But of nine Spurs players at the tournament, only six made it past the group stage.
They usher in the second part of the Premier League season with a Boxing Day lunchtime trip across London to face Brentford.
Liverpool were relatively unscathed by the World Cup, where only six of their first-team regulars were on duty as Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Thiago Alcantara and Luis Diaz all missed out for various reasons.
Five of their players made it out of the groups but all – including England pair Jordan Hdnerson and Trent Alexander-Arnold – were eliminated by the end of the quarter-finals.
Defender Ibrahima Konate was also part of the French squad but has only played twice in the Premier League this season so does not meet the 500-minute threshold.
Sixth-placed Liverpool are back in action at Aston Villa in the tea-time kick-off on Boxing Day.
Which clubs were least affected by tournament in Qatar?
Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Southampton have all suffered the least disruption from the World Cup, with none of their players taking part in the knockout rounds in Qatar.
Each club had two first-team regulars at the tournament, but none made it past the group stage.
Aston Villa also had a joint-low two regulars at the World Cup, one of whom, goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, went all the way to a winners’ medal.
It remains to be seen whether he is back between the posts for the fixture against Liverpool on 26 December.
Sporting Risk is a sports analytics company whose expertise lies in predictive analytics, forecasting and betting on football. The company leverages the predictive modelling of its data science team to generate outputs for the media, gaming and professional football sectors. www.sportingrisk.com