127 players from the Premier League have been named among the 832 heading to Qatar to contest the upcoming World Cup, up from the 108 that were selected for the tournament four years ago.
But, in the middle of a top-flight season, the tournament in Qatar has plenty of opportunity to scupper domestic campaigns, whether it be title charges or relegation battles, through fatigue or injury.
With this in mind, we took a look at which clubs have been handed a tough assignment, and which have escaped lightly on first viewing.
The Big Six
Of the 127 called up, over half are from the ‘big six’ clubs in the Premier League. Leading the way are current champions Manchester City, who have had 16 of their squad called up, while cross-city rivals United follow in a close second, with 13 players heading to Qatar.
The London clubs come next, with Chelsea (13), Tottenham (11) and Arsenal (10) all sending double figures to the World Cup, while a mixture of injuries and omissions mean that Liverpool have a chance to regroup, with just 7 of Jurgen Klopp’s side making the trip.
On paper, then, it looks as though the Manchester Clubs will be hardest hit, and when both looking at who is likely to start for their nation and which country is tipped to go deep into the tournament, this continues to raise eyebrows.
For Guardiola’s side, question marks surround the involvement of all four Englishmen, with Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips both struggling with injuries while Phil Foden and Jack Grealish are among those fighting for one spot, with neither certain to get it.
Meanwhile, shot-stopper Ederson is second choice in the Brazil squad behind Liverpool no.1 Alisson, so will likely see little action. Beyond that, however, almost all of their players are first choice for their countries, while all of Portugal, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands are tipped to go deep into the tournament.
So too are Brazil, who have called up three Manchester United players, while a further three have been called up by the Three Lions.
There is of course some overlap, with north London duo Richarlison and Gabriel Jesus fighting for a spot in Brazil’s lineup, while one of Antony and Gabriel Martinelli could be deployed on the flanks.
We expect up to 12 players from Manchester City to start for their national side, while all of Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham could see 10 starters from their squads.
Meanwhile, Arsenal could be set for as few as 5, while Liverpool are yet lower, with just four, two of which (Jordan Henderson and Ibrahim Konate) are unlikely to feature much.
Of course, several stars are staying at home. Both Manchester City and Arsenal benefit from Norway’s failure to qualify for Qatar, while Mo Salah is also staying put after Egypt lost out to Senegal on penalties.
Major loser: Manchester City
Major winner: Liverpool
Best of the Rest:
Newcastle’s charge for Europe shows no signs of slowing down, with a 1-0 win over Chelsea keeping them third in the Premier League heading into Christmas. Eddie Howe’s side have five players heading to the World Cup, but only three are expected to see significant action with both Callum Wilson and Nick Pope firmly with the England reserves.
In fact, it is Brighton that are sending the most players to Qatar outside of the top six, with seven seagulls called up to represent their countries. They will take some solace, however, in the fact that none of Ecuador, Ghana or Japan are expected to make it too far in the tournament.
On the other end of the spectrum, 11th place Crystal Palace have just two players on the plane to Qatar, the second joint fewest in the division.
Qatar helps: Crystal Palace
Qatar harms: Brighton
Leicester City found form at just the wrong time, with seven of their stars now jetting off for the month-long tournament. Meanwhile, from struggling Southampton only Armel Bella-Kotchap received the call, with the Saints the side with the fewest players heading to the middle east.
Nottingham Forest, West Ham and Wolves (all five) won’t have their hopes of avoiding relegation helped either, with the three sides all struggling for form.
Loser: Leicester City