How Premier League's top teams have been affected by the World Cup

“This is not even half my squad, or 30% of it”. These were Jose Mourinho’s comments after Manchester United’s 4-1 defeat by Liverpool on Saturday at the ICC tournament. The Portuguese lamented the absence of a number of key players following the World Cup. Twelve of the Red Devils’ squad participated at the tournament over the summer, but they are not the only side to be affected by this. The Premier League’s top six have all had numerous representatives in Russia, with many yet to return just 11 days before the start of the Premier League season.

Manchester City
Players at World Cup: 16


Following their domination last term, it was no surprise to see so many of Manchester City’s stars called up to the national team for the World Cup. In fact, the only surprise was the omission of Leroy Sane from the Germany squad. Bar the young winger, every City player to make more than ten league appearances in 2017/18 travelled to Russia, leaving Pep Guardiola at somewhat of a disadvantage for his preparations.

Manchester United
Players at World Cup: 12


In comparison to their neighbours’ lack of first-team options in pre-season, it appears that United have been let off lightly. Two of their players at the World Cup did not even reach ten league appearances last term. However, Belgium and England’s participation in the third place play-off has meant that stars including Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young will not be back for some time.

Tottenham Hotspur
Players at World Cup: 12

Like Manchester United, Tottenham’s preparations for the 2018/19 season have suffered a blow due to England and Belgium’s success. Eight of their 12 players at the World Cup represented these nations, while skipper Hugo Lloris also played on the final weekend of the tournament. Of Mauricio Pochettino’s first choice side last season, only Ben Davies was not involved in Russia. The Spurs manager claimed that Premier League teams are at a “massive disadvantage” due to the shorter summer break. He might not be wrong.

Chelsea
Players at World Cup: 12

On paper Chelsea appear to be at a similar handicap, but Spanish quartet Cesc Fabregas, Alvaro Morata, Marcos Alonso and Pedro all missed out on a place in the national squad and have been involved in pre-season. Jorginho, the Blues’ only summer signing so far, did not take part in the World Cup and has started in both of his new side’s friendlies to date. That said, Chelsea’s preparations did not begin as smoothly as hoped, as Antonio Conte took charge for the opening week before being replaced by compatriot Maurizio Sarri.

Arsenal
Players at World Cup: 10


The Gunners had representatives in nine national squads at the World Cup, more than any of their rivals, but this played into their hands as only two of their players were involved past the last 16. The majority of their key players stayed home, including Alexandre Lacazette and January recruits Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Meanwhile, summer additions Bernd Leno and Sokratis Papastathopoulos have had time to familiarise themselves with their new surroundings.

Liverpool
Players at World Cup: 9


Of the teams to finish in the top six last season, Liverpool had the fewest players at the World Cup, while star forwards Mo Salah and Sadio Mane were eliminated in the group phase and so have already played in two friendlies for Jurgen Klopp’s side. New midfield duo Fabinho and Naby Keita were not involved in Russia and have enjoyed the benefits of a full pre-season program with the Reds. Considering Klopp’s preferred style of play, the higher levels of energy and stamina could prove vital in the coming season.