Premier League: The potential winners and losers if the English top flight resumes

Premier League: The potential winners and losers if the English top flight resumes

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Erling Haaland, Gabriel Jesus & Mohamed SalahSome players and clubs are likely more ready than others for the Premier League to resume

The Premier League will resume on December 26 after a six-week break to host the World Cup in Qatar.

For some top-flight clubs, forced hibernation offered an opportunity to reset, rest key players or bring those on the treatment table closer to fitness.

Others, however, will brace themselves to deal with the tournament’s emotional and physical hangover as players either return full of confidence or have an injury or the baggage to cost their team at a crucial moment.

InNewCL Sport examines who could benefit or lose if the English top flight gets back on track.

R&R for Haaland as Arsenal’s Jesus suffers injury hit

While the world didn’t get to see the Premier League’s strongest forward in Qatar, Manchester City are hoping a mid-season holiday will help Erling Haaland maintain his explosive form.

With 18 goals in 13 league games and another five in four Champions League games, much could depend on the Norway international’s fitness and freshness as City aim for domestic and European success.

If the prospect of a goalscoring Haaland isn’t scary enough for defenders, Riyad Mahrez should also be ready to play for City after his Algerian side failed to qualify and fellow striker Julian Alvarez returns to England on the crest of a wave after one to be a central figure in Argentina’s triumph.

Arsenal’s five-point lead at the top of the table is much more vulnerable after a knee injury ended Gabriel Jesus’ tournament prematurely.

The Brazilian striker has been a transformative signing for the Gunners this season but now faces a significant time on the touchlines as Mikel Arteta’s side face a challenging string of games, starting with a home game against West Ham and a trip to Brighton with games against Newcastle, Tottenham and Manchester United are to follow by the end of January.

Mixed feelings for Kane, Maguire and Salah

Harry MaguireManchester United’s Harry Maguire arguably showed his best form of the season for England at the World Cup

Tottenham’s top-four ambitions will likely rest on Harry Kane not suffering an emotional burnout from the agony of his penalty shoot-out against France when England were eliminated in the quarter-finals.

Spurs boss Antonio Conte could also rue Richarlison picking up another injury after impressing for Brazil while Son Heung-min’s struggles for form continued in the Middle East.

At the other end of the pitch, things are looking a little more positive with Cristian Romero’s World Cup title and French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris’s final appearance.

Meanwhile, Liverpool fans will be hoping Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah’s absence from the tournament will allow him to shake off any early-season sluggishness – to help his club get their top-four push back on track.

Diogo Jota could reportedly be available again for the Reds in early February to make up for the absence of winger Luis Diaz, who is expected to be out until March after injuring his knee again during a warm-weather training camp in Dubai.

Manchester United are returning a world champion in Argentina’s Lisandro Martinez, while other members of the back four should return in positive spirits – even as they know their workloads may need to be adjusted in the coming weeks.

Erik ten Hag has urged Harry Maguire to repeat his England form at Old Trafford, Diogo Dalot played for Portugal and Raphael Varane, stable and solid despite prone to injury, helped France to the final.

Rice, Mac Allister & Martinez shares are rising

Declan Rice’s public admission while on duty in England that winning club-level titles has become a top priority is only likely to add to transfer speculation about the West Ham midfielder’s long-term future.

However, manager David Moyes will at least be pleased that none of his players have significant fitness concerns, with Hammers defender Nayef Aguerd impressive in Morocco’s run to the last four.

Brighton midfielder Alexis Mac Allister cemented his reputation with a string of excellent performances for Argentina – and with three years remaining on his current contract, his club appear well placed to fend off potential candidates pursuing a European spot.

Aston Villa manager Unai Emery will also be pleased to have recalled all his outfield players a few weeks before the top flight resumes, while his goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez’s reputation has risen following his exploits in Argentina’s success.

The World Cup arguably came at a good time for Chelsea boss Graham Potter to restart the season after three straight Premier League defeats, but it was a mixed bag for his players.

Raheem Sterling lost his place in England, Mason Mount is no longer in the starting XI while Kai Havertz will bear the burden of Germany’s failure.

In downtime, however, key players like Reece James, N’Golo Kante, Wesley Fofana and Ben Chilwell have all made progress towards injury recovery and are expected to return in January, if not sooner.

Guardiola and Arteta’s juggler file

Ilkay Gundogan & Kevin de BruyneManchester City players have played more World Cup minutes than any other Premier League club

Together, Manchester City and Arsenal had 26 players in Qatar. For City boss Pep Guardiola and fellow Gunners Mikel Arteta, it could mean extra juggling in terms of selection.

Guardiola may face the bigger balancing act. City players played a total of 4,628 minutes in Qatar – Arsenal played just 1,699 minutes.

Tottenham (3,692), Chelsea (3,588) and Manchester United (3,585) players also all had more than twice as many World Cup minutes as the Gunners.

City’s England contingent of John Stones, Phil Foden and Kyle Walker all return with their reputations intact, although Kalvin Phillips and Jack Grealish will be determined to get more minutes on the pitch.

Conversely, Kevin de Bruyne failed to lead Belgium’s golden generation out of their group and Ilkay Gündogan’s Germany were also early in the departure lounge, although that could prove beneficial for Guardiola’s side later in the season.

Defender Manuel Akanji looked far less stable in a Switzerland side beaten by Portuguese team-mates Bernardo Silva and Ruben Dias, and Spain’s Rodri and Aymeric Laporte were unlikely to count on a knock-out defeat by Morocco.

Gabriel Martinelli should return to Arsenal from Brazil duty with plenty of energy and enthusiasm after being used sparingly by the Selecao.

The same applies to Ben White, whose engagement with England was terminated prematurely for personal reasons, while fellow defender William Saliba hardly left the substitutes’ bench for the French.

Mikel Arteta’s other big plus is that Martin Odegaard, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Mohamed Elneny and Kieran Tierney should all be rested after their nations failed to qualify for the World Cup, although Jesus’ absence may not be easily remedied.

Maddison could offer Leicester a lift

A fit James Maddison would give Leicester a boost ahead of Monday’s trip to Newcastle as the 26-year-old midfielder failed to play a single minute for the Three Lions in Qatar.

Further down the Premier League, Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin was able to use his time recovering from knee, thigh and shoulder problems.

And Jordan Pickford’s excellent performances will have been a great encouragement to manager Frank Lampard as well.

The availability of Kyle Walker-Peters, who is out with a hamstring problem, could be a welcome boost for Southampton’s new manager Nathan Jones.

A new era at Wolves begins under Julen Lopetegui, who is hoping to bring Pedro Neto back from an ankle injury to support a squad that is expected to be strengthened in the January transfer window.

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