Connah’s Quay Nomads manager Andy Morrison laid bare the calculations that every football manager is currently dealing with recently. The former Manchester City ace described how he “turned a blind eye” to a number of his players suggesting they were ill in the run-up to the Welsh club’s UEFA Europa League second qualifying round tie with Dinamo Tbilisi. Given that three of his players had contracted Coronavirus in the build-up to the match, this suggests that some clubs are finding it difficult to weigh up the public health and sporting obligations that they are currently working under. With the rise in Coronavirus cases throughout the UK in recent weeks, it seems fair to suggest that Premier League clubs will also have problems fielding their strongest line-ups in the coming months. Could the Premier League 2020/21 season, therefore, turn into the survival of the fittest?
Strength in Depth Will Be Vitally Important for Premier League Clubs This Season
Who Could Cope the Best in the Premier League?
Liverpool claimed their first top-flight title in 30 years only weeks ago. However, the Anfield club are not renowned for having the biggest of first-team squads. Were Mohamad Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino to become unavailable due to Coronavirus or injury, would the back-up forwards deliver?
This problem highlights the need for strength in depth more than ever this season.
Manchester City and Chelsea will be confident of overcoming lengthy lists of unavailable players. Pep Guardiola always fills his squads with two first-team players for every position. Chelsea are also rapidly adhering to this philosophy, following the capture of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Thiago Silva, Hakim Ziyech and Ben Chilwell. Manchester United could be also be concerned. Relatively sedate transfer progress has seen only Donny van de Beek arrive this summer so far.
Survival of the Fittest
This season, more than ever, keeping star players on the pitch will be a big advantage. The start that Paris Saint-Germain have made in Ligue 1 should be a warning to all. The club were without six first-team players in their season opener against Lens and were unable to overcome the welter handicap. The Parisiens, winning one and losing two of their opening league fixtures, are already giving themselves an uphill task in retaining their French crown.
Manchester City and Chelsea will certainly hope their big squads will protect them against such misfortune. For some teams, though, this is likely to prove a constant battle.
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