The 2022 World Cup has reached its conclusion, with Argentina and Lionel Messi running out of narrow winners over France in Qatar. While the tournament was a grueling one for some, there were several players who were unable to feature, either due to their nations not qualifying or through injury scares.
Here are three Premier League stars who benefitted most from a rest period over the international break.
Erling Haaland (Manchester City)
Despite Erling Haaland already laying claim to be one of the world’s greatest, the 22-year-old features in a Norway team that lacks the quality of his Manchester City side. He was unable to star in Qatar due to his nation only qualifying third in Group G, behind Turkey in second and eventual World Cup quarter-finalists the Netherlands in the top spot. For that reason, Haaland has enjoyed nearly four weeks preparing for the return of the Premier League, as City go in defense of their crown.
Despite Arsenal’s young guns currently leading the way, Pep Guardiola’s side is still among the favorites to clinch the top spot. According to the best betting sites, City’s chances of retaining their title are currently at odds of between -225 and -250 across different outlets. Of course, post-World Cup developments such as fatigued players and injuries may go on to affect the odds, but only time will tell.
Haaland, meanwhile, looks set to play a key part in any title charge, already boasting a whopping 18 goals in 13 Premier League matches. As if City’s attack couldn’t get any scarier, a fully fit Erling Haaland could wreak havoc in the league throughout the new year.
— Erling Haaland (@ErlingHaaland) December 14, 2022
Mohammed Salah (Liverpool)
Liverpool’s Egyptian King may be way behind Haaland in the scoring charts with just six goals to his name, but Premier League fans know that the 30-year-old comes in clutch at the business end of every campaign. While many thought his 32-goal haul in his debut league season with Liverpool back in 2017-18 was a one-season wonder, Salah has since gone on to post a minimum of 19 Premier League goals each year to propel his side up the table.
Now, after Egypt so cruelly missed out on World Cup qualification following a penalty shoot-out defeat in the play-off against Senegal, Salah will have gotten over the heartbreak and has had time to perfect his skills and get back to full fitness. Jurgen Klopp’s slow start to 2022-23 left Salah and Co. sitting in sixth place by the time the World Cup kicked off. With underdogs such as Newcastle and Brighton flying, and Chelsea and Manchester United yet to hit full form, Liverpool will need Salah at full throttle if they are to bag a top-four spot.
— Mohamed Salah (@MoSalah) December 13, 2022
Reece James (Chelsea)
Reece James and Chelsea will be trying their hardest to stop them, though. The Blues saw Champions League-winning coach Thomas Tuchel sacked after a lackluster start to their 2022-23 campaign, although new boss Graham Potter soon made a flying start to life in West London. James was a vital part of his nine-game unbeaten streak, popping up with a goal and assist in that time and helping lead almost every attack while also proving to be a rock in defense.
However, that all ended when the 23-year-old came off with a knee injury 62 minutes into Chelsea’s game against Milan in October. Without James, the Blues fell to five games without a win in the league before the international break, as the right-back himself was ruled out of Gareth Southgate’s squad for Qatar despite him expressing his disappointment at the decision. James’ absence from England’s World Cup journey will provide the youngster with the determination that Chelsea fans will hope can propel their team forward following a bleak October and November.
it’s been a while but back like we never left! 💯 pic.twitter.com/8v2IjJ0DIW
— Reece James (@ReeceJames) December 15, 2022
Alongside these three entries, there were a whole host of players absent from Qatar that could prove to be the difference in the new year. The focus will turn to each team’s strength in depth as Premier League teams enter a condensed schedule resuming just days after the final in Lusail.Share on Facebook «||» Share on Twitter «||» Share on Reddit «||» Share on LinkedIn