The advantage Liverpool have over Arsenal, Villa and Manchester City in the title race

The advantage Liverpool have over Arsenal, Villa and Manchester City in the title race

Tis the season for footballers to be ground into the dirt by playing all of the football all of the time while the rest of us sit watching it all while eating turkey leftovers, marzipan fruits and drinking pretty much anything that’s left. So which Premier League squads have the weariest players heading into this unpleasantness?

We’ve taken the arbitrary benchmark of 1500 club minutes in all competitions. All but two clubs have at least one player over that mark, with two having a whopping great 10.

As ever, playing a full game counts as 90 minutes here even though we know it will very often have been more like 105. There are limits even to the lengths of nerdiness we’re willing to sink.

Nottingham Forest – 0
Nearest: Morgan Gibbs-White 1435

Nice fresh squad you’ve got to work with there, Nuno. Because there are about 873 of them.

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Luton – 0
Nearest: Thomas Kaminski 1440

The abandonment at Bournemouth keeps Kaminski out.

Burnley – 1
James Trafford 1530

And goalkeepers don’t really count, do they? Do they even get tired? Lazy sods.

Sheffield United – 1
Wes Foderingham 1530

Again, goalkeepers don’t count.

Wolves – 1
Max Kilman 1611

Matheus Cunha, Craig Dawson and Nelson Semedo are all north of 1400.

Tottenham – 2
Guglielmo Vicario 1530, Dejan Kulusevski 1513

Any other big club given a year out of Europe and a first-hurdle Carabao exit would be expected to absolutely thrive at this point. Instead, Spurs decided to have a massive injury crisis and a never-ending suspension crisis at exactly the same time, because they cannot help themselves. Only Son Heung-min and Pedro Porro are close to joining the two men who have made it past 1500 minutes.

Brentford – 2
Ethan Pinnock 1620, Vitaly Janelt 1563

Won’t take long for this number to swell with Yoane Wissa (1494), Mark Flekken (1485) and Christian Norgaard (1456) all within a single half of joining Pinnock and Janelt.

Bournemouth – 2
Ilya Sabarnyi 1620, Dominic Solanke 1601

Nobody else within a game of the 1500-minute mark, but worth noting the abandoned Luton game doesn’t figure here.

Fulham – 2
Bernd Leno 1620, Antonee Robinson 1608

Joao Palhinha will join Leno and Robinson with another 80 minutes, but getting to the Carabao semi-finals with only three players over 1300 minutes is clever work from Marco Silva.

Liverpool – 2
Mo Salah 1775, Dominik Szoboszlai 1663

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s 30-minute, two-assist Carabao cameo against West Ham leaves him officially one minute short of 1500. Alisson (1440) would certainly be on the list already but for injury, but apart from Salah and his astonishing ability to play almost all the football, Liverpool have managed their way through the first half of the season really rather well, positioning themselves firmly in the title race while safely through to the Europa last 16 and Carabao semi-finals without anyone getting too knackered.

Crystal Palace – 3
Sam Johnstone 1598, Tyrick Mitchell 1539, Joachim Andersen 1530

Marc Guehi and Jordan Ayew within a single game, but nobody getting massively flogged by Roy Hodgson here.

Brighton – 3
Pascal Gross 1823, Kaoru Mitoma 1815, Lewis Dunk 1643

Very decent workload management from a team successfully dealing with European commitments for the first time. Billy Gilmour, Jan Paul van Hecke and Simon Adingra are all within 50 minutes of the threshold but it’s solid work for a team new to all this.

Manchester United – 3
Andre Onana 2250, Bruno Fernandes 2005, Diogo Dalot 1971

What if Bruno Fernandes got himself suspended out of an understandable desire for a rest? After Dalot’s near 2000-minute effort it’s quite the drop to Marcus Rashford’s 1439.

Everton – 5
Jordan Pickford 1890, James Tarkowski 1815, James Garner 1698, Abdoulaye Doucoure 1562, Jarrad Branthwaite 1530

Quite a lot of broken eggs in the Carabao basket now, but it was also fair enough gamble for a very decent team at no real risk of relegation but whose 10-point penalty probably puts a European push via the league out of reach.

Chelsea – 6
Robert Sanchez 1704, Axel Disasi 1675, Conor Gallagher 1616, Thiago Silva 1530, Raheem Sterling 1525, Levi Colwill 1512

Quite a lot for a team outside Europe, really. Going deep in the Carabao a factor, clearly. Nicolas Jackson and Enzo Fernandez are within a game of joining the current half-dozen.

West Ham – 8
Lucas Paqueta 1983, James Ward-Prowse 1963, Vladimir Coufal 1957, Jarrod Bowen 1904, Nayef Aguerd 1867, Tomas Soucek 1842, Emerson Palmieri 1828, Edson Alvarez 1511

Ward-Prowse has confirmed himself as one of the signings of the season. It’s already hard to imagine West Ham without him, or frankly that he hasn’t always been there. Well placed in the league and winners of their Europa group. It’s broadly speaking so far, so good for the Hammers despite the Carabao dream fading and dying at Anfield.

Newcastle – 8
Bruno Guimaraes 2105, Fabian Schar 1994, Kieran Trippier 1967, Anthony Gordon 1911, Nick Pope 1796, Miguel Almiron 1791, Jamaal Lascelles 1632, Joelinton 1552

Threw everything at a teak-tough Champions League group, made it to the quarter-finals of the Carabao. Have nothing to show for either of those worthy endeavours and are now completely and possibly irrevocably knackered. Far too many players on this list are currently injured or, in Trippier’s case, visibly wilting under the sheer weight of it all.

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Arsenal – 8
William Saliba 2132, Declan Rice 2038, Gabriel Margalhaes 2001, Bukayo Saka 1847, Ben White 1840, Kai Havertz 1720, Martin Odegaard 1710, David Raya 1530

That’s a lot of lads a long way over the 1500 mark. After the Busy Festive Period when this feature updates to a 2000-minute benchmark it will not be kind to the Gunners. But that is the nature of trying a title challenge while being in the Champions League. And thus far, you have to say it’s all going pretty well.

Manchester City – 10
Kyle Walker 2095, Ederson 1980, Phil Foden 1928, Erling Haaland 1870, Rodri 1793, Manuel Akanji 1789, Julian Alvarez 1765, Ruben Dias 1763, Bernardo Silva 1580, Josko Gvardiol 1542

Ah, Pep, with your insane small-squad stylings. Note that eight of these lads are way over the 1500-minute mark as well. And that the 2000-minute man is, frankly, a 33-year-old freak. Surely he starts slowing down at some point.

It’s little wonder they are so good in the first halves of games.

Aston Villa – 10
Ezri Konsa 2134, John McGinn 2049, Douglas Luiz 1975, Lucas Digne 1895, Ollie Watkins 1883, Emi Martinez 1845, Boubacar Kamara 1836, Pau Torres 1802, Matty Cash 1658, Moussa Diaby 1578

To be fair, if you’re Aston Villa and you find yourself in late 2023 with the most plausible barrier to a genuine tilt at the Premier League title being ‘quite a lot of quite tired players by the end of the season’ then you’re probably taking that.

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