With the World Cup grinding the Premier League to a halt for six weeks, clubs have had to plan for an unprecedented mid-season break; Everton went to Australia while Arsenal and Liverpool are among clubs to set up friendlies
Saturday 17 December 2022 21:06, UK
The Premier League returns on December 26 having halted to accommodate a winter World Cup for the first time, but how are clubs preparing for when it resumes?
Players selected for the tournament are either still in Qatar or having some downtime before the Premier League resumes on Boxing Day - eight days after the World Cup concludes - with those clubs still in the Carabao Cup playing their fourth-round ties in the week leading up to Christmas.
Clubs have been putting the finishing touches to their preparations for the season's resumption as they attempt to maintain the fitness of those players who were not at the World Cup.
Premier League leaders Arsenal suffered defeat in the final game of their mid-season break as they lost 2-0 at home to Juventus. Goals in stoppage time at the end of both halves saw the Gunners fall to defeat, with a Granit Xhaka own goal and a deflected strike from London-born Samuel Iling-Junior proving the difference.
Erling Haaland scored as Manchester City beat Girona 2-0 at the club's Academy Stadium. Both of City's goals came in the opening 18 minutes, with Kevin De Bruyne breaking the deadlock after five minutes before setting up Haaland for a tap-in.
Ivan Toney scored from 45 yards as Brentford drew 2-2 with German club Wolfsburg in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the Gtech Community Stadium. Thomas Frank's side fell behind but Bryan Mbeumo levelled matters with a free-kick, before Toney gave them a first-half lead by scoring a lob from the halfway line.
Fulham and West Ham drew 1-1 in a Craven Cottage friendly on Saturday. Carlos Vinicius scored for the hosts, cancelling out Jarrod Bowen's opener for the Hammers, who watched Gianluca Scamacca limp off with an injury.
Nottingham Forest won 2-1 at Valencia on Friday night with Emmanuel Dennis scoring the winner. Taiwo Awoniyi scored the other goal for Steve Cooper's side in the first half.
Liverpool made up for last weekend's defeat to Lyon by thrashing AC Milan 4-1 on Friday. Mohamed Salah and Thiago scored for the Reds before half-time, with World Cup returnee Darwin Nunez adding a late double.
Aston Villa lost out 1-0 to Villarreal in a friendly at Villa Park on Thursday evening. The Spanish side scored on 78 minutes when Etienne Capoue fired a shot past Filip Marschall.
Here, Sky Sports runs through each club's respective plans...
Mikel Arteta took Arsenal on a training camp to Dubai during the World Cup, with the club heading home from the United Arab Emirates after their win over AC Milan.
The first-team squad made the same trip to Dubai last January having been knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round. It was a suitable venue as players who dropped out of the World Cup made the short excursion to join up with their team-mates.
With only France defender William Saliba left at the World Cup, a nearly full-strength Arsenal take on Juventus in an Emirates Stadium friendly on December 17 before starting their Premier League campaign on Boxing Day against West Ham.
Which players have been at the World Cup? 10 players: Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli (both Brazil), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Japan), Granit Xhaka (Switzerland), William Saliba (France), Matt Turner (USA), Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Bukayo Saka (all England), Thomas Partey (Ghana).
Aston Villa manager Unai Emery has been using the World Cup break to acclimatise to his new surroundings with John McGinn, Ashley Young, Calum Chambers, Leon Bailey, Robin Olsen, Danny Ings and Philippe Coutinho among those remaining at Bodymoor Heath this winter.
Villa took on Cardiff at the end of November in memory of the late Peter Whittingham, who represented both clubs, while they also faced games against Brighton, Chelsea and Emery's former club Villarreal.
Which players have been at the World Cup? Four players: Leander Dendoncker (Belgium), Jan Bednarek, Matty Cash (both Poland), Emiliano Martinez (Argentina).
Bournemouth's plan was for a new manager to be appointed during this window - and Gary O'Neil was made permanent boss.
O'Neil gave the players not participating in the World Cup a fortnight from the training ground to reset. The players returned to the Vitality Stadium on November 28 for two days of training before jetting off for Dubai.
Which players were at the World Cup? Two players: Chris Mepham, Kieffer Moore (Wales).
Brentford's squad members not going to the World Cup were given a couple of weeks off to rest.
Thomas Frank has a list of injured players; Pontus Jansson, Aaron Hickey and Thomas Strakosha who have been stepping up their recovery process during this period, with Tottenham at the Gtech Community Stadium on Boxing Day being the Bees' next fixture.
The club's new training facility, the Robert Rowan Performance Centre, has opened and Brentford flew out to Spain for a week to build up their fitness with a couple of friendlies.
Which players were at the World Cup? Six players: Mikkel Damsgaard, Mathias Jensen, Christian Norgaard (all Denmark), Bryan Mbeumo (Cameroon), David Raya (Spain), Saman Ghoddos (Iran).
As with most Premier League clubs, players not involved with their countries at the World Cup were given time off until Monday, November 28, when they returned to training.
The Seagulls regrouped for a warm weather training week in Dubai, while they also took on Aston Villa in a friendly.
Which players have been at the World Cup? Eight players: Kauro Mitoma (Japan), Leandro Trossard (Belgium), Robert Sanchez (Spain), Alexis Mac Allister (Argentina), Tariq Lamptey (Ghana), Pervis Estupinan, Moises Caicedo, Jeremy Sarmiento (all Ecuador).
There is a growing injury list at Cobham, with Ben Chilwell and N'Golo Kante still not back in full training with the Blues. Chelsea lost Armando Broja for the rest of the season during their mid-season trip to Dubai. The striker limped off with an ACL injury in their 1-0 loss to Aston Villa.
There has been a welcome return for Reece James and Wesley Fofana to Blues training, in better news for Graham Potter.
Chelsea resume their Premier League season at home to Bournemouth on December 27.
Which players were at the World Cup? Twelve players: Mateo Kovacic (Croatia), Thiago Silva (Brazil), Denis Zakaria (Switzerland), Christian Pulisic (USA), Hakim Ziyech (Morocco), Kai Havertz (Germany), Mason Mount, Conor Gallagher, Raheem Sterling (all England), Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly (both Senegal), Cesar Azpilicueta (Spain).
Patrick Vieira gave those players not heading out to Qatar some time off. The Eagles travelled to Turkey for a friendly with Napoli, while they also took on Trabzonspor.
In England, Palace drew 0-0 with Brazilian side Botafogo in a friendly at Selhurst Park on December 3. The match was the first time the club has played a top-tier Brazilian team.
Palace's ground was also the venue for their friendly with Spanish side Real Valladolid, in which Wilfried Zaha scored twice.
Which players were at the World Cup? Two players: Joachim Andersen (Denmark), Jordan Ayew (Ghana).
Everton headed to Australia to play in the Sydney Super Cup alongside Scottish Premiership champions Celtic. Frank Lampard's squad sustained injuries to Tom Davies and Yerry Mina while James Garner has been ruled out for two months.
Which players have been at the World Cup? Four players: Jordan Pickford (England), Amadou Onana (Belgium), Conor Coady (England), Idrissa Gana Gueye (Senegal).
Aleksandar Mitrovic, Daniel James, Antonee Robinson and Joao Palhinha all featured at the World Cup, but Marco Silva will be hoping to maintain Fulham's positive return to the Premier League from Boxing Day onwards.
Those not on international duty were handed a two-week break before heading to Portugal, as they did during the summer pre-season, for a week-long warm weather camp.
Which players were at the World Cup? Six players: Harry Wilson, Daniel James (both Wales), Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson (both USA) Joao Palhinha (Portugal), Aleksandar Mitrovic (Serbia).
Leeds have been in Valencia as Jesse Marsch looked to get his players up to speed for when the Premier League season resumes.
Which players were at the World Cup? Three players: Rasmus Kristensen (Denmark), Brenden Aaronson, Tyler Adams (both USA).
Brendan Rodgers allowed his players time off before the first-team squad left the East Midlands for a warm-weather trip in Abu Dhabi. The Foxes took on French side Troyes in a friendly which ended in a goalless draw.
Leicester return to action on December 20, two days after the World Cup, for their Carabao Cup tie with Newport County.
Which players were at the World Cup? Seven players: Danny Ward (Wales), Wout Faes, Timothy Castagne, Youri Tielemans (all Belgium), James Maddison (England), Nampalys Mendy (Senegal), Daniel Amartey (Ghana).
A host of Liverpool players have been in action at the World Cup with Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Alisson, Jordan Henderson, Darwin Nunez and Trent Alexander-Arnold among those on international duty.
The squad departed for the United Arab Emirates on December 5, where they began preparations for the second half of the season.
Adrian, Kelleher, Davies, Mrozek, Pitaluga, Salah, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Elliott, Tsimikas, Ramsay, Robertson, Carvalho, Bajcetic, Phillips, Gordon, Keita, Matip, Gomez, Jota, Arthur, Diaz, Thiago, Firmino, Chambers, Quansah, Clark, Frauendorf, Stewart, Doak, Cain, Corness.
The travelling party included Diogo Jota, Naby Keita and Arthur Melo, who will continue to work on their individual rehabilitation programmes from their respective injuries.
However, Luis Diaz has suffered a setback in his comeback from injury with Jurgen Klopp describing it as a "smack in the face".
Liverpool have returned to Merseyside ahead of the Carabao Cup tie with Manchester City on December 22.
Which players were at the World Cup? Seven players: Alisson, Fabinho (both Brazil), Ibrahima Konate (France), Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson (both England), Darwin Nunez (Uruguay), Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands).
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola gave the first-team members not heading to Qatar a break. At the start of December, the squad travelled to Abu Dhabi for a training camp in the United Arab Emirates, where the club's owner Sheikh Mansour is the deputy prime minister.
City played Girona in a training ground friendly in front of supporters on December 17, with only Kevin De Bruyne, Erling Haaland, Sergio Gomez, Ilkay Gundogan, Stefan Ortega, Riyad Mahrez and Cole Palmer featuring from the first-team contingent.
Which players have been at the World Cup? Sixteen players: Manuel Akanji (Switzerland), Ederson (Brazil), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium), Ilkay Gundogan (Germany), John Stones, Kyle Walker, Kalvin Phillips, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish (all England), Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva (all Portugal), Nathan Ake (Netherlands), Aymeric Laporte and Rodri (both Spain), Julian Alvarez (Argentina).
The Manchester United players not heading out to Qatar travelled to Spain for a training camp at the start of December.
Jadon Sancho trained away from the first team to work with one of Erik ten Hag's specialist fitness coaches in the Netherlands.
Manchester United resume their season with a Carabao Cup tie with Vincent Kompany's Burnley on December 21.
Which players have been at the World Cup? Fourteen players: Antony, Casemiro, Fred (all Brazil), Christian Eriksen (Denmark), Raphael Varane (France), Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Marcus Rashford (all England), Diogo Dalot, Bruno Fernandes, Cristiano Ronaldo (all Portugal), Facundo Pellistri (Uruguay), Tyrell Malacia (Netherlands), Lisandro Martinez (Argentina).
Newcastle hosted La Liga club Rayo Vallecano in a friendly fixture at St James' Park in December.
The Magpies headed to Saudi Arabia for a training camp between December 4 and 10 which included a friendly against local side Al-Hilal.
Which players have been at the World Cup? Five players: Bruno Guimaraes (Brazil), Fabian Schar (Switzerland), Nick Pope, Kieran Trippier, Callum Wilson (all England).
Nottingham Forest headed to Greece for a mid-season training camp, spending six days at Olympiakos' training centre in Athens from Sunday, December 4.
Evangelos Marinakis owns both Nottingham Forest and Olympiakos and the two teams played a friendly match against the reigning Greek league champions on December 10.
Forest are back in Carabao Cup action against Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday, December 20.
Which players were at the World Cup? Five players: Remo Freuler (Switzerland), Wayne Hennessey, Neco Williams, Brennan Johnson (all Wales), Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal).
There were not too many Saints players heading to Qatar, but new boss Nathan Jones has used the break to train hard with his squad to ensure they hit the ground running after the break.
Southampton were set to travel to Miami for a warm-weather training camp prior to Ralph Hasenhuttl's sacking but the Saints decided to go to Spain, with the club announcing the switch at the start of December.
Which players were at the World Cup? Two players: Armel Bella-Kotchap (Germany), Mohammed Salisu (Ghana).
Tottenham made a winning return to action as goals from Dejan Kulusevski, Bryan Gil and a double from Matt Doherty saw them ease to a convincing 4-0 win over Scottish Premiership side Motherwell in a mid-season friendly.
Spurs take on Nice on December 21, five days before their Premier League restart fixture away at Brentford on Boxing Day.
Which players have been at the World Cup? Eleven players: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Denmark), Ivan Perisic (Croatia), Richarlison (Brazil), Ben Davies (Wales), Hugo Lloris (France), Eric Dier, Harry Kane (both England), Rodrigo Bentancur (Uruguay), Pape Matar Sarr (Senegal), Cristian Romero (Argentina), Son Heung-min (South Korea).
West Ham started their preparations for the Premier League's return with a 4-2 win at Cambridge United, before beating Italian side Udinese.
A draw against Fulham at Craven Cottage was their last friendly before facing Arsenal on Boxing Day.
Which players have been at the World Cup? Five players: Lucas Paqueta (Brazil), Alphonse Areola (France), Nayef Aguerd (Morocco), Thilo Kehrer (Germany), Declan Rice (England).
Several Wolves players missed out on the World Cup due to the team's poor form. Joao Moutinho, Nelson Semedo, Goncalo Guedes and Daniel Podence were all overlooked by Portugal boss Fernando Santos.
New boss Julen Lopetegui gave his squad some time off before flying to Spain for a warm-weather training camp in Marbella, where they took on Cadiz.
Wolves take on Gillingham in the Carabao Cup on December 20.
Which players were at the World Cup? Five players: Matheus Nunes, Ruben Neves, Jose Sa (all Portugal), Hwang Hee-chan (South Korea), Raul Jimenez (Mexico).
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