What Impact Will The World Cup Have on Premier League Teams Seasons in 2023?
As the 2022 edition of the FIFA World Cup reaches its conclusion, the focus will soon pivot back to domestic leagues around the globe and when it comes to competitions of this kind, the Premier League is the biggest of them all.
While just like its European counterparts such as the Bundesliga or Serie A, it has had to deal with the disruption that comes with a first-ever winter World Cup. Disruption has halted the usual November and December schedule.
An enforced hiatus has seen the international game take centre stage for four weeks and although there were certainly detractors when it came to staging the World Cup in Qatar, the quality of the football has gone some way to silencing them.
Now though, the likes of France and Argentina will go on the back burner, as the Premier League returns on Boxing Day and although the usual Christmas period has been curtailed slightly, there is still plenty of festive fun to be had.
Not only that but coming back to a league campaign in the middle of a domestic season is a great unknown for us all. A state of the unknown that managers, players, and supporters are going to have to deal with.
The big question though, is just how will all these separate entities deal with such an unknown quantity? For the supporters, their task is not all that difficult, they just need to show their support as chaos likely unfolds around them.
How Will The Winter World Cup Affect Players?
For the players that have been to Qatar, it is certainly going to be a case of more football in what is already a compacted season. Will the standard of the Premier League drop off because of it? That is one concern and perhaps a potential flipside of a winter World Cup.
With FIFA’s crown jewel usually being held at the end of each season, there is always criticism when it comes to players looking somewhat leggy. The tank is empty as the likes of Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling do their best to conquer the globe without fresh legs.
However, that usual sight has certainly not been the case. If anything, this year’s World Cup has been improved by the fact that the game’s very best have been close to their very best and the product has not suffered like before.
This means that there could be a rather obvious counterpoint to all of this. One that sees the second half of the Premier League become more a slog than usual. Maybe not in the months of January and February but certainly in the months of April and May.
Especially when you factor in those clubs that are hoping to compete on multiple fronts. Clubs such as Manchester City or Liverpool, as they look to conquer European football and snare the Champions League trophy for themselves.
Sacrificing Trophies for the Good of the Squad
Something that is certainly difficult in any normal season but as we all know this season is far from normal and any multiple pursuits may have to be sacrificed for those clubs who usually aim to scoop all that goes before them.
You can have one but not the other, the Premier League or the Champions League. That may well be the dilemma that is presented to the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, especially as so many of their star names would have spent so much time in the Middle East.
Admittedly Guardiola does have one name that did not take a trip to Qatar. That of course being Erling Haaland and with the Norwegian being afforded a month’s rest, he may become even more of a scary prospect to deal with.
However, Haaland alone cannot win a Premier League title. We know that already as Manchester City find themselves playing catchup to Arsenal and with the North London outfit looking to win a first English crown since 2004, they already have to deal with post-World Cup injury woes.
World Cup Injury Woes
Woes that come in the shape of Gabriel Jesus’s injury and with the Brazil forward suffering an ailment that was bad enough to rule him out of the knockout stage in Qatar, his club boss will now be sweating on his fitness.
Because this is the one thing that Mikel Arteta or any of his counterparts did not want to see during this year’s World Cup. Admittedly injuries do happen during international tournament football but there is usually a summer period to rest and recuperate.
A luxury that is not afforded to any player who has recently worn their national team colours. Instead, is it a case of straight out of the frying pan and into the fire – that is unless you have picked up an injury.
Will the absence of Gabriel Jesus be enough to derail Arsenal’s season? This is another question that is added to the pile of great unknowns. In fairness, the former Manchester City forward has been rather quiet on the domestic scene and by logic his absence may not be as big as first thought.
Then again, Jesus has the one thing that most of his Arsenal counterparts do not. That is Premier League winner’s medals and the experience that comes with earning them. If he is not in the trenches, the Gunners may fail to win the war.
Who Will Benefit The Most?
While the second half of the Premier League season is undoubtedly going to be a war. One that could favour the teams that sent fewer players to Qatar and although this will not turn the table upside down, it could mean more equilibrium between the top and the bottom.
Especially when you consider that there are 12 teams who could still get relegated in May. Suddenly the notion of mid-table has all but disappeared. You are either competing for the title and the European scraps that go with it, or you are aiming to avoid the drop.
There is absolutely no margin for error between now and the end of the season. However, there certainly will be errors along the way and you can be sure that this year’s World Cup will have been an overriding factor in creating them.
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