There are just 101 days until the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup -- thanks to a last-minute change of plan by FIFA to allow host Qatar to kick off the tournament a day earlier than scheduled -- and there are already winners and losers in the Premier League as a consequence of the decision to stage football's biggest competition in the middle of the 2022-23 European club season.
Liverpool and Arsenal have the ability to use the six-week shutdown in the club game to their advantage -- the Premier League goes into World Cup hibernation Nov. 13, resuming Dec. 26 -- but none of the so-called Big Six will be hit harder than Chelsea.
Managers Jurgen Klopp, Thomas Tuchel and Pep Guardiola have all voiced their concerns about the potential impact of Qatar 2022 on the physical and psychological well-being of their players, but some clubs are in better shape than others to cope with the unique challenge of planning for the before, during and after of the World Cup, which now starts Nov. 20 and concludes with the final on Dec. 18.
Klopp's Liverpool squad is facing the least disruption from the World Cup taking place. Only 11 of the Anfield first-team group are in contention to travel to Qatar. That may rise to 12 if Fabio Carvalho, the 19-year-old summer signing from Fulham, progresses from Portugal's U21 team to the senior side. But Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Joel Matip (Cameroon), Andy Robertson (Scotland) and Luis Diaz (Colombia) will all have the opportunity to rest and recharge due to their respective international teams failing to qualify.
At the opposite end of the scale, Tuchel could see as many as 20 of his Chelsea players selected for duty in Qatar. From Edouard Mendy (Senegal) in goal, Thiago Silva (Brazil) in defence, N'Golo Kante (France) and Mateo Kovacic (Croatia) in midfield to Kai Havertz (Germany) and Raheem Sterling (England) up front, Chelsea have key players with nations expected to go deep into the competition.
But there are others, including Christian Pulisic (United States), Ethan Ampadu (Wales) and potentially Callum Hudson-Odoi, if he switches allegiance from England to Ghana, who are also set to be absent from Stamford Bridge during the World Cup.
Tuchel spoke last week about how Qatar 2022 will affect players throughout the campaign, acknowledging that clubs will lose out. He said: "The players are very focused on the World Cup already, which is a good thing because they come in shape and take care of themselves.