There remains just over 10 days until the 2022 Qatar World Cup kick-offs and national managers across the globe will be watching their players in their final appearances for their clubs with an eagle-eye as injuries continue to rule players out.
Some of the games biggest names will miss the tournament in the Middle east after picking up significant injuries during the course of the previous few months. Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante will be absent from France’s attempt to retain their title while Chelsea duo Ben Chilwell and Reece James have both confirmed they won’t be part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
And, alongside James’ announcement, Wednesday confirmed another victim to the hectic winter schedule in Bayern Munich and Senegal attacker Sadio Mane. The former Liverpool man was forced off with an apparent knee injury 20 minutes into Bayern’s 6-1 win over Werder Bremen last night and French outlet L’Equipe suggested he will be out for “several weeks”, subsequently ruling him out of the African champions’ World Cup schedule.
Many, if not all, of the 32 national managers will be sweating over the next week as their players tick off their final couple of fixtures for the clubs. And there’s expected that plenty of eyes will be on tonight’s Carabao Cup clash between Arsenal and Brighton.
The Gunners have already had Takehiro Tomiyasu, Granit Xhaka, Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus named in their respective nations’ 26-man squad and are expected to have more named in the coming days. Mikel Arteta’s side have two more games remaining until the Premier League campaign pauses and tonight presents a chance to rest a number of key players.
Bukayo Sako, William Saliba, Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny are all players who could be rested with one eye on the World Cup. All four have played plenty of football this season already and, whether he likes it or not, Arteta faces the decisive question of whether to risk his players or not.
Mane is a perfect example of what could happen. The 30-year-old has featured in every single game for the German giants this season and is in the form of his life after scoring 11 goals in 23 appearances. But he misses out on the World Cup after picking up an injury.
Brighton aren’t the easiest opponents and the Gunners boss is not likely to rest all of his first team. However, it’ll be worth noting which of his players he decides to leave on the bench or at home.