Premier League have the most players in the World Cup final four than any time in history

I was thinking about the teams and players who are featuring in the final four of the World Cup.

Croatia have just one player who plays in England (Lovren, I think, please correct in the comments) and France have just four (Lloris, Pogba, Giroud, and Kante). I’m not counting players who have ever played in England because that would be a bit higher (N’Zonzi, Modric) but just players who are currently under contract with an English football team.

Belgium have 10 of their 21 players playing in England (Courtois, de Bruyne, Fellaini, Kompany, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Hazard, Lukaku, Chadli (WBA), and Dembele). Januzaj and Vermaelen used to play in England and Batshuayi is still under contract with Chelsea.

None of the players on the English team play outside of England. So, that’s an additional 21. That means of the 84 players in the final four, 36 players play in England. Obviously, that’s tilted a bit because of England, but if we just take the other three teams 20 of the 63 players on those teams either currently play for an English Premier League team or have played for an English Premier League team.

The Premier League has more players in the World Cup final four than ever before.

Arsenal have just one. Danny Welbeck. I would like more. I like to watch my favorite players play football. However, it turns out that this may be a blessing in disguise and it also turns out that the early season fixtures for Arsenal may be a lot easier than we thought they would be when the fixtures list was announced.

There is a little over a month before the opening matches of the Premier League season. Arsenal’s first match is against Man City. They still have Kevin de Bruyne, their best player from last year, in the World Cup for another week. They also have Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling, Delph, Jesus, Kompany, and Stones all still going forward. Kompany and Stones didn’t feature much last season but de Bruyne, Walker, and Sterling were three of City’s six most-used players.

In the fixture the following week, Arsenal play Chelsea. Chelsea have Courtoise, Kante, and Hazard all still in the tournament with minor players, Willian, Cahill, Giroud and Batshuayi all still with their respective teams as well.

Those are just the teams that Arsenal face in the first month. But there’s a good chance four of the five other teams in the “top six” will get off to a slow start as well.

Manchester United are going to be without Pogba, Lukaku, Fellaini, Young, Lingard, Rashford, and goalkeeping superstar David de Gea had a cripplingly poor tournament.

Tottenham Hotspur will miss Kane, Alli, Vertonghen, Trippier, Dier, Dembele, Rose, Alderweireld, and Lloris. Eriksen and Davinson Sanchez are also just returning a few days earlier than the others. Tottenham and Man U play each other on August 27th. That could be the first game for a lot of the players listed here.

Liverpool have it easier than most. They should have Salah back soon and Firmino was kicked out of the tournament this week. Henderson is still in the tournament but they have plenty of midfield cover for a midfielder who his teammates don’t even pass to.

There was a lot of moaning about the fixtures list when it was first announced but now, with Arsenal in full training (minus Ozil and Welbs), it looks like Arsenal might have a chance to get off to a hot start against top opponents. And in a season where a single point is probably going to be the difference between 4th and 5th, this could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.



  1. Precisely why I’ve been cheering for Belgium and England all along. Delighted they’ll each be playing at least two more games.

    Only problem is Liverpool, as you say, who are set to get off to a great start, and some are predicting they’ll win the title this season. So we’re not competing with them. We’re hoping that Tottenham are somehow worse than us this year so we can win the fourth place trophy. With them missing their best players for the first few weeks of the season, it could help us get a head start.

    I’m really curious about what happens with Chelsea this season. They seem to be, well, just kind of stagnating as a club. Could we finish above them this season?

    1. Preview of this season’s predictions:

      Burnley – relegation battle
      Chelsea – below Everton
      Man U – 5th or maybe even 6th (depends on how long they hang on to Mourinho)
      Liverpool, Man City, Arsenal, and Tottenham top four (unless Emery struggles, which he very much could)

      1. Excluding the usual top seven, any club can find themselves in the relegation without much of a fuss.
        All it takes is a few unlucky/ bad results, a couple of injuries to key players, a knee jerk reaction managerial firing followed by an Allardyce / Pulis/Pardew hire.

      2. Aren’t Chelsea could potentially get Sarri as a first team coach?
        I think final place for a top four finish will be between us, Chelsea and Tottenham.

      3. You know I was predicting Liverpool to win the title this season but isnt the AFCON scheduled for this winter? If that’s the case, there is a real possibility that Salah, Mane and Keita will miss around 6 games which would put them at a real disadvantage.

      4. ManU 5th or below sounds too good to believe.. Can you please share based on what you think so? I mean, Moronho was the manager also this season..

      5. I don’t like any predictions of us cracking the top 4. It sets us up for disappointment. I think we win Europa League, but finish fifth. And that’s anticipating a Chelsea melt-down because they’re still unsettled with the manager and it doesn’t sound like Abramovitch wants to spend a dime. I don’t think Mourinho has his collapse this year, not yet. If City stood pat, maybe Liverpool would catch them, but Jorginho & Mahrez? C’mon, it’s becoming unfair.

        1 – City
        2 – Liverpool
        3 – United
        4 – Spurs
        5 – Arsenal
        6 – Chelsea
        7 – Everton

        1. A couple of notes here: United massively overperformed on the back of a Balon d’Or season from David de Gea. I don’t see them getting better under the baleful gaze of Mourinho.

          Arsenal had the second best home record in the League last season. I think that indicates a quality in the squad and along with the fact that Unai thinks of himself as half Pep and have Simeone I have a sneaking suspicion that he will get the best out of this team on away days. Plus we just added the Player of the Year in Torreira. If Arsenal don’t crack top four, with Chelsea’s impending implosion, it will be a failed season in my estimate.

          Liverpool massively underperformed because of two cray cray keepers and they are adding some steele to their midfield. I think they are going to win the League.

  2. i’m not sure if mendy and laporte from city and bakayoko from chelsea made the french team; i could look it up but i don’t care that much. they’re all starters for their clubs and good enough for the french team.

    also, i wouldn’t consider giroud a minor player at chelsea. he won the role of starting center forward ahead of batshuayi and morata.

    1. ironically, this is why arsenal never won a championship on an odd-numbered year under wenger. every even-numbered summer saw arsenal players at the world cup or european championship and returning late for preseason for the odd-numbered year’s campaign.

      also, wenger gave the tournament boys a significant amount more time off than most managers. we’re unsure if emery will follow the same mold or if that’s a club policy.

    2. Yeah, Mendy’s in the French side, and he’s expected to be a starter for City (he missed all of last season because of an ACL rupture).

  3. …off topic. i just read an article saying that sampdoria are looking to replace lucas torreira with leandro paredes. this is interesting for me and i’d like to share with you guys why.

    in italy, my team is roma. leandro played for roma but didn’t start much as he was behind radja nainggolan, kevin strootman, and earlier, daniele derossi but this kid can absolutely play. he reminds me of edu with dynamite passing range and an exquisite through ball. last summer, roma bought maxime gonalons and sold leandro to zenit, where he was a hit. however, roma just sold nainggolan to inter, among other players because roma are broke. they are rumored to be looking to bring back leandro but he doesn’t want to go back to roma; thinks they did him dirty to sell him in the first place.

    gonalons is getting old and struggling with injury. leandro is only 24 and can, absolutely, play hard ball with roma. gattuso wants him at milan but they’re broke too. sampdoria will have the money from the torreira transfer to buy leandro parades but will he go to mid-table sampdoria? here’s why this is interesting.

    sampdoria recently hired walter sabatini as the director of football. sabatini used to be the director for roma and is responsible for building the roma team that have just finished 2nd & 3rd in consecutive serie a seasons and made it to the semi-finals of the champions league this year. he blasted roma for selling paredes and mo salah (but roma were broke). he may want to build a new team around paredes. this sucks because i remember reading an article last year that arsenal were interested in buying leandro when cazorla went down. i didn’t want that to happen because i figured it was just a matter of time before xhaka “got it”. well, we’re still waiting for xhaka to get it.

    personally, i think leandro is a far better player than lucas torreira and granit xhaka. in fairness, i’ve seen a lot more of leandro than torreira but we’ve all seen enough of xhaka in the bpl. i know it’s, pretty much, a done deal for lucas’ arrival but i say buy both. sabatini’s the gm but he’s not the coach. leandro made his name playing through balls to mo salah and eden dzeko. he’d release aubameyang, ozil, and lacazette with the same efficiency. do sampdoria have that kind of quality up front? every italian coach wanted him, including roberto mancini, who signed him for zenit. anyway, i just wanted to share that with you all.

    1. Saw a rumour today linking him to us. No reliable source, though. Just the usual mill churn.

    2. Monchi received a lot of flak for selling Salah for 35m in his last year. He said the Neymar deal happened a few weeks later which distorted the perception of the deal. Roma aren’t ‘broke’. Yes, like most clubs they need to balance their books. (Making the CL semi finals has helped)

      Selling Nainngolan is likely because a) Inter were willing to pay for him because Spalletti likes him. b) They want to change their style of play. Pastore replaces Pjanic for them. They’ve also added Cristante and Coric to strengthen their midfield. And Justin Kluivert and Patrick Schick to reduce their reliance on Dzeko. They’re looking for a more expansive style of play I think, and to steal a Serie A title in the next 2 years.

      1. my point was sabatini put together a pretty good squad but, since he’s left, the club are systematically rat-f*cking his work. as good as roma were, can you imagine how much better they would have been if they’d kept salah and paredes? are they actually going to be better without nainggolan? he’s on record declaring that he didn’t want to leave roma; hints of adebayor leaving arsenal.

        lastly, i don’t think pastore can hold pjanic’s jock strap.

        1. New DoF wants new players? Hardly shocking.. Yes Nainngolan liked it in Roma. And Roma fans liked him. It’s a risk no doubt, but it’s likely necessary. They need to ‘get younger’ too. De Rossi cannot be sold. It was between Strootman and Ninja. Strootman is the more defensively sound, and Nainngolan was wanted by Inter. The choice was clear.

          And no Pastore isn’t as good as Pjanic. But he rose to prominence in Italy and his inclusion means Roma will look to play a more creative/pro-active game.

          They sold Salah because he was in the last year of his contract and they got 35m for him. They’ve now bought Kluivert. Roma will be better next season. At least domestically. If Juventus get Ronaldo though, it might all be for nothing.

  4. Nice exposition @Josh! But lemme air my opinion…. I noticed something lately..and that is, emery isnt just buying good players, he’s buying good players with great attitude and passion.. all his signings have something in common and that’s a die-hard attitude.. we may have missed out on this kid but Lucas has got something I really love.. and that showed in the world cup

    1. No doubt Torreira’s got heart. I noticed how he threw himself in front of shots in the Portugal match. None of that *let me just turn sideways in a half baked attempt to block* which our defenders sometimes do. Though he doesn’t appear to be a technical wizard, we are buying a fighter and his delivery on set pieces aren’t bad either.

    2. you may be right but the question remains: does he have bpl champion quality to go with that fight?

      let me reiterate, i don’t dislike torreira. i just think arsenal paid way too much for him. for the record, i felt the same way about xhaka, mustafi, and chambers. now, it’s torreira and leno. i really don’t think torreira’s good enough to play ahead of any of the current arsenal center mids, despite his fight. likewise, i don’t think leno’s better than cech or ospina. arsenal are paying too much money to pay for potential backups.

      but like i always say, we’ll see. time always tells.

      1. I think he is lacking a bit technically. He is tigerish but doesn’t look graceful in the way he challenges for the ball. He’s not the silky smooth monster we were hoping to sign in midfield. More of a pitbull than a German shepherd, if you will. This is from a 3 game sample mind you, so I maybe completely off. I think his long term success in the BPL will come down to how well he can read the game and from what I have observed in that small sample size, he does that relatively well for someone his age.

        Is he better than our current crop of midfielders? Hard to say. I can only confidently say he isn’t better than Ramsey but it feels like an unfair comparison because Ramsey is our only all rounder and the rest are specialists. Torreira brings something new to the table and I think in a midfield three he will slot in with Ramsey and Xhaka. Unlike most fans, I have very little hope for Xhaka even with the new manager. I think we will continue to rebuild this area next summer but for now Torreira seems a good solution given our personnel and short term goals

        1. I agree on Xhaka though here’s a caveat: watching the training videos is quite shocking. He has Arsenal players doing basic drills like stepping up AND THEN FOLLOWING THE RUNNER. This is stuff I teach very young players as one of the first defensive fundamentals. I often say that even if you can’t contribute technical brilliance all the time you can give your body to the team by simply following your marker.

          I was also shocked by Mustafi’s apparent lack of lateral movement. That is a surprise to me, that a player could be bought at his price tag and yet he is ridiculously slow at sideways movement. But it does also explain why he gets caught out sometimes.

  5. The best players in the world tend to also be the best paid players in the world. And currently England is awash with money. So this is not a surprise. England making the semi final is a surprise, but they’ve been winning tournaments at the youth level so maybe it is their time now.

    I’d expect France or Beligium to beat them. But Portugal beat France in the Euro finals and Beligium are inexperienced, so anything can happen.

    Croatia look less dynamic as the tournament has gone on and I’m not sure they’ll be able to withstand the aerial barrage from the English. A Belgium v Croatia final will be good though. We’ll have a new winner of the World Cup.

  6. Arsenal have signed Lucas and guendouzi… guen with the skill set of pogba and Lucas like kante… I’m liking this summer and I’ve got strong hopes !! COYG!!!

    1. i looked on the website and didn’t see where arsenal signed either of those players. what i did see is that lucas perez has been given a number for the upcoming season.

      we’ve got to relax with the comparisons. seriously, pogba and kante are world class players. if this new guen kid signs and is anywhere near the skill set of pogba, we’ll have to recognize some serious, out of this world genius in our recruiting. i’ve already talked enough about the torreira:kante comparison. we’ll see.

      1. I don’t know whether you read Tim’s piece over on another site where he compared Torreira to Kante (statistically) He wasn’t as good as Kante is now.. But his numbers indicated why he could be a Kante-like player, and he’s young enough to improve.

        Also about paying. There is generally a ‘PL tax’ where buying concerned. I don’t care if we’re ‘overpaying’ by a little. We can afford not to always be super efficient and lose out on a player we like (This is not the same as throwing away money)

  7. Guendouzi looks interesting… 21 games last season for Lorient, 19 (until he’s 20). Big and strong, good tackle, good range of passing, long legs, reminds me of Patr… STOP IT…

    Anyway, his highlights reel is a lot of fun.

      1. And Shard is a little boozy?
        I thought I had the bad rhymes all to myself on this site.
        An exclusivity on being poetic **shite**

        Are the Wild Boars all going to escape the cave?
        And see the World Cup as reward for being brave?
        Here’s to the best possible outcome and that all ends well
        And those kids survive with epic stories to tell.

    1. I thought PV4 too, when I watched his vid. Leggy, pacy, ridiculous engine. Xhaka will tug his shirt in training all day long 😀

      I thought too of Christian Kerembeau (hair). And Ruud Gullitt (game). Should I stop now?

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