On December 26, the Premier League will restart after a six-week hiatus to accommodate the World Cup in Qatar.
A forced slumber will have given several top-flight clubs the chance to regroup, rest important players, or get those receiving treatment closer to fitness.
Others, on the other hand, will be prepared to deal with the tournament’s mental and physical aftereffects as players return either full of confidence or nursing an injury or carrying the burden of costing their team at a crucial moment.
When the English top flight resumes, BBC Sport examines who might gain or lose.
R&R furor for Harland as Arsenal’s Jesus suffers injury blow
Erling Haaland, the Premier League’s most lethal striker, did not get to show himself to the world in Qatar, but Manchester City will be hoping that a mid-season break will allow him to keep up his explosive form.
Much could hinge on the fitness and freshness of Norway international as City strives for domestic and European glory. He has 18 goals in 13 league games and another five in four Champions League matches.
If the thought of a goal-hungry Haaland isn’t frightening enough for defenders, then fellow attacker Riyad Mahrez should also be eager to go for City after his Algeria squad didn’t qualify while Julian Alvarez returns to England on the crest of a wave after playing a key role in Argentina’s victory.
In contrast, after Gabriel Jesus’ campaign was abruptly terminated by a knee injury, Arsenal’s five-point lead at the top of the table now seems noticeably more fragile.
The Brazilian forward has been a game-changing acquisition for the Gunners this season, but he now faces an extended period of rest as Mikel Arteta’s squad prepares for a difficult stretch of games, starting with games against West Ham at home and Brighton away, with games against Newcastle, Tottenham, and Manchester United to follow before the end of January.
Mixed emotions for Kane, Maguire, and Salah
Harry Kane’s ability to avoid emotional exhaustion as a result of the pain of missing the penalty against France, which caused England to lose in the quarterfinals, will likely determine if Tottenham can finish in the top four.
Antonio Conte, the manager of Tottenham, may also regret Richarlison suffering yet another injury after performing admirably for Brazil, while Son Heung-form min’s woes persisted in the Middle East.
Due to the fact that French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris advanced to the final and Cristian Romero’s standing as a world champion, the situation at the other end of the field appears to be significantly more favorable.
Meanwhile, Liverpool supporters will be hoping that Egypt striker Mohamed Salah can overcome any early-season rustiness to help his team get their top-four drive back on track given that he won’t be participating in the competition.
In order to help make up for the loss of winger Luis Diaz, who is anticipated to be out until March after reinjuring his knee during a warm-weather training camp in Dubai, reports have stated that Diogo Jota could be back for the Reds by early February.
Argentina’s Lisandro Martinez, a World Cup champion, returns to Manchester United, and the other members of their back four should do the same, albeit they may need to adapt their workload in the coming weeks.
Diogo Dalot shone for Portugal, and Raphael Varane, who has been reliable and strong despite being prone to injuries, propelled France into the final four. Erik ten Hag has urged Harry Maguire to recapture his England form back at Old Trafford.
Rice, Mac Allister & Martinez’s stock rises
Declan Rice’s declaration to the public while representing England that winning championships at the club level has become a primary objective is only going to fuel transfer rumors around the West Ham midfielder’s long-term future.
However, Hammers defender Nayef Aguerd was impressed as Morocco advanced to the semifinals, so boss David Moyes can at least be happy that none of his players have any serious fitness issues.
With three years remaining on his current contract, Brighton midfielder Alexis Mac Allister looks well-positioned to stave off potential suitors as they pursue a European slot. Alexis Mac Allister improved his reputation with a succession of outstanding performances for Argentina.
Unai Emery, the manager of Aston Villa, will also be pleased that all of his outfield players have returned, several weeks before the start of the top flight, and that Emiliano Martinez, his goalkeeper, has gained respect following his heroics in Argentina’s victory.
Graham Potter, the manager of Chelsea, could have used a fresh start following three straight Premier League losses, but his players’ experiences with the World Cup have been varied.
Mason Mount is no longer the starter, Raheem Sterling lost his spot for England, and Kai Havertz will be responsible for Germany’s collapse.
Key players like Reece James, N’Golo Kante, Wesley Fofana, and Ben Chilwell, however, have been able to make progress in their injury recoveries during the downtime and are anticipated to return in January, if not sooner.
Guardiola and Arteta’s juggling acts
There were 26 players from both Manchester City and Arsenal in Qatar. That might require some further selection juggling on the part of City manager Pep Guardiola and his colleague at the Gunners, Mikel Arteta.
Guardiola might have a harder time striking a balance. In Qatar, City’s players collectively played for 4,628 minutes, compared to 1,699 minutes for Arsenal.
More than twice as many World Cup minutes were played by Tottenham (3,692), Chelsea (3,588), and Manchester United (3,585) players as by the Gunners.
The general secretary of the players’ union Fifpro, Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, has issued a warning over the potential effects of players’ demanding schedules on their physical and mental well-being.
Before the World Cup, he said, “We’ve seen some players play 10, 15 games in a row without an appropriate recovery time, which we estimate to be at least five days between matches.”
“It’s not just about the physical recovery; it’s also about the mental ability to readjust and get yourself ready for the rest of the season — which, of course, is very different when you play a tournament in the middle of a season.”
John Stones, Phil Foden, and Kyle Walker, members of City’s England contingent, return with their reputations untarnished, although Kalvin Phillips and Jack Grealish is committed to playing more time on the field.
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In contrast, Kevin de Bruyne was unable to guide Belgium’s golden generation out of their group, and Germany’s Ilkay Gundogan was also forced to leave the tournament early. However, this may work in Guardiola’s favor later in the year.
Spain’s Rodri and Aymeric Laporte presumably did not expect Spain to lose to Morocco in the round of 16 since defender Manuel Akanji appeared to be much less stable in the Switzerland team that was destroyed by Portuguese teammates Bernardo Silva and Ruben Dias.
After seeing little action for the Selecao, Gabriel Martinelli should return to Arsenal from his Brazilian service with lots of vigor and passion.
The same is true of Ben White, whose engagement with England was cut short early due to personal matters, while teammate defender William Saliba barely got off the bench to join France’s subs.
The absence of Jesus could be difficult to make up for, but Mikel Arteta also sees the benefit of resting Martin Odegaard, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Mohamed Elneny, and Kieran Tierney after their countries missed out on the World Cup.