The 2022 FIFA World Cup is right around the corner, with the first match between host nation Qatar and South American minnows Ecuador scheduled for November 20 at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor. If everything goes to plan, and injuries permitting, there could be up to 16 members of Chelsea’s first time competing for the famous Jules Rimet Trophy come mid-December. Everyone wants to see their best players perform on the biggest international stage, but could the 2022 FIFA World Cup prove to be an unwelcome distraction for Graham Potter and his superstars?
Chelsea has six more Premier League games between now and the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The away fixture at Newcastle on United on November 12 is the last time we get to see the famous blue shirts until they host Bournemouth on Boxing Day. It would be bad enough if all the players were heading for a six-week break, but up to 16 Chelsea players will be battling in intense heat for more than a month before returning home, hopefully injury-free, to continue their charge in the Premier League.
An Entire Squad Heading to Qatar
Those of you planning out your World Cup bets will no doubt have the likes of Brazil, England, France, Germany, and Spain on your radar. That makes perfect sense because the World Cup is likely to be won by one of those five teams. While that may be good for your bank account, it is actually bad news as a Chelsea fan because it means up to 11 Blues could be in action right up to the World Cup’s conclusion.
Thiago Silva is a shoo-in for a place in Brazil’s squad, and nothing in the world would stop him from getting on that plane to Qatar because he is now 38 years old, and this is 100% his last chance of adding to his international trophy haul.
Frenchmen Wesley Fofana and N’Golo Kante are also dead certs for the French squad if they are fit. Kante has only made two Premier League appearances this campaign, while Fofana went off with a knee strain in the Champions League 3-0 victory over AC Milan at Stamford Bridge. Potter stated Fofana is in a race to be fit for the World Cup; him rushing back has every chance of aggravating his injury.
Gareth Southgate will almost certainly select Reece James if he recovers from his knee injury, while Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling are nailed on for a World Cup squad place. Southgate may even consider Conor Gallagher, having given the midfield youngster four England caps so far.
Then you have Kai Havertz representing Germany and Kepa Arrizabalaga, Cesar Azplicueta, and Marc Cucurella donning the famous red shorts of the Spanish national team. Throw into the mix Mateo Kovacic of Croatia, Hakim Ziyech of Morocco, Christian Pulisic of the United States, and Senagalese duo Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly, and you have an entire first-team matchday squad on the road for up to six weeks. It is a far from ideal situation.
Three Games in Eight Days
Those returning from World Cup duty do not have long to rest, recover, and recuperate because Chelsea has three games in the space of eight days when the Premier League recommences. The Blues host Bournemouth on December 26, travel to struggling Nottingham Forest on December 31, before hosting Manchester City on January 2. Taking on Erling Haaland and the title favourites is difficult enough at the best of times, never mind under the current circumstances.
Of course, the other teams in the “Big Six” are in the same predicament, so it could be a case of which players come back to England unscathed, both physically and mentally. It just feels like the World Cup, as exciting as it would be if England find their form and perform well, could be an unwelcomed distraction for Potter’s men, especially as the league looks wide open again this year.