Premier League 2000-minute men: Man Utd cup exploits give them a dozen weary soldiers
The already daft 2022/23 fixture list is hitting its daftest point of all with cup commitments and the return of European football making for a heady brew. Manchester United, for instance, played 16 games in the first two months of 2023.
Sympathy for a club of their standing will inevitably be in short supply, but it’s an absurd workload. And as the following totting up of players who’ve already played over 2,000 minutes of club football this season shows, their top players are already among the top flight’s busiest…
20) Bournemouth – 3
Adam Smith 2306, Jefferson Lerma 2190, Philip Billing 2056
It’s a crap squad, but at least it won’t be a knackered one.
19) Crystal Palace – 2
Marc Guehi 2520, Vicente Guaita 2430, Jordan Ayew 2020
Had he not been suspended for the 3-0 defeat against Fulham, Guehi would have a perfect score having played every minute of Palace’s other 28 games this season.
18) Nottingham Forest – 3
Brennan Johnson 2496, Rem0 Freuler 2196, Morgan Gibbs-White 2094.
You don’t buy 427 new players to flog them past the 2000-minute barrier as quickly as possible.
17) Wolves – 4
Max Kilman 2790, Ruben Neves 2706, Jose Sa 2700, Nelsen Semedo 2048
Odd because it feels like Wolves always play the same team.
16) Brentford – 5
David Raya 2340, Rico Henry 2211, Ben Mee 2220, Ivan Toney 2170, Mathias Jensen 2051
Bryan Mbeumo is in touching distance, nobody else is close.
15) Brighton – 5
Pascal Gross 2492, Lewis Dunk 2490, Solly March 2387, Moises Caicedo 2316, Alexis Mac Allister 2042
Solly March has dropped off in the epic three-way tussle for top spot in the Brighton’s Busiest Player competition, which is now our everything. Pipe down, Arsenal and Man City. Nobody cares.
14) Southampton – 5
James Ward-Prowse 2941, Gavin Bazunu 2790, Mohammed Salisu 2356, Che Adams 2091, Mislav Orsic 2055 (1863 for Dinamo Zagreb)
Frankly a surprise to learn any player other than Ward-Prowse has played any minutes at all for the Saints this season. Twenty-year-old keeper Gavin Bazunu’s learning curve has been fun to watch. It’s a massive workload that appeared to be swallowing him whole, yet he’s now kept three clean sheets in four games.
13) Aston Villa – 5
Ezri Konsa 2301, Ollie Watkins 2238, Emiliano Martinez 2195, Tyrone Mings 2191, Douglas Luiz 2127
Unai Emery has definitely worked out who he can trust. Alex Moreno is about to join that circle of trust, via the unorthodox method of almost 1500 minutes for Real Betis.
12) Leeds – 6
Illan Meslier 2700, Max Wober 2449 (1573 for RB Salzburg), Robin Koch 2413, Tyler Adams 2292, Jack Harrison 2040, Brendon Aaronson 2037
Not sure it’s really talked about enough that Leeds really do ask an awful lot of a goalkeeper who is still only 22.
11) Chelsea – 6
Enzo Fernandez (2478 for Benfica) 3189, Kai Havertz 2469, Kepa 2295, Thiago Silva 2287, Mason Mount 2145, Kalidou Koulibaly 2125
Mad numbers for a Champions League club, and a reminder of just how daftly vast Chelsea’s playing resources are. The most knackered will be Fernandez, undroppable for Benfica and already boasting the same status for Chelsea. Six weeks after leaving Benfica, he’s still played more minutes for them this season than anyone has managed for Chelsea.
10) West Ham – 7
Jarrod Bowen 2847, Declan Rice 2786, Tomas Soucek 2485, Thilo Kehrer 2153, Lukasz Fabianski 2123, Vladimir Coufal 2110, Said Benrahma 2039
They have played an awful lot of games and yet this list is pretty short. That new signings Lucas Paqueta and Gianluca Scamacca are nowhere near is damning on David Moyes.
9) Leicester – 7
Danny Ward 2520, Timothy Castagne 2481, Harvey Barnes 2479, Victor Kristiansen 2249 (1838 for Copenhagen), Wout Faes 2234, Youri Tielemans 2190, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall 2072
If James Maddison had been fit enough to make this list, you suspect they would have had a safely mid-table season.
8) Fulham – 7
Andreas Pereira 2556, Tim Ream 2518, Joao Palhinha 2380, Harrison Reed 2272, Bernd Leno 2250, Antonee Robinson 2203, Bobby De Cordova-Reid 2188.
Fulham were the only Premier League team to get knocked out in round two of the Carabao so their schedule has been relatively light. No great surprise among the core group to have racked up 2000 minutes regardless, though. Aleksandar Mitrovic not being among them now becomes a bonus, as long as he starts scoring goals again.
7) Everton – 7
Alex Iwobi 2571, James Tarkowski 2546, Jordan Pickford 2430, Vitaliy Mykolenko 2221, Amadou Onana 2162, Demarai Gray 2141, Conor Coady 2061.
Everton’s problem – haha, like Everton have just one – is not that they have several players at or near 2000 minutes but the identity of those who are nowhere near. Specifically Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who is yet to reach 800 minutes, and Andros Townsend who hasn’t kicked a ball this season due to injury.
6) Liverpool – 8
Mohamed Salah 3233, Alisson 3150, Cody Gakpo 2927 (1960 for PSV), Trent Alexander-Arnold 2695, Virgil van Dijk 2655, Fabinho 2457, Andy Robertson 2426, Harvey Elliott 2049.
Liverpool have certainly looked to capitalise on Salah’s lack of World Cup activity by making him play pretty much all the other football. He got a night off in the Carabao against Derby back in September but has played some part in all Liverpool’s other 38 games this season, starting 37 of them. The players not on this list suggests Liverpool could now get much better, with Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz among them. But Liverpool aren’t getting much better.
5) Arsenal – 9
Gabriel Margalhaes 3032, Bukayo Saka 2818, William Saliba 2793, Granit Xhaka 2788, Gabriel Martinelli 2696, Aaron Ramsdale 2610, Martin Odegaard 2467, Ben White 2375, Jorginho 2177 (1760 for Chelsea).
The games are really starting to mount up for the Gunners and there’s an awful lot of football in the legs of nine of their players, including new signing Jorginho. The good news is that Leandro Trossard (still barely 1700 minutes combined for Brighton and the Gunners), Thomas Partey and Oleksandr Zinchenko should be relatively fresh. And Gabriel Jesus is back.
4) Newcastle United – 10
Kieran Trippier 2747, Dan Burn 2640, Nick Pope 2632, Sean Longstaff 2546, Sven Botman 2542, Fabian Schar 2506, Joelinton 2500, Miguel Almiron 2426, Joe Willock 2119, Bruno Guimaraes 20172
For a club not in Europe, it’s a lot. The Carabao run to Wembley is quite rightly not something most Newcastle fans would trade given their long, long wait for a showpiece final, but it has stretched an overperforming squad and the cracks are starting to show in the league.
3) Manchester City – 11
Rodri 3130, Ederson 3014, Erling Haaland 2745, Ilkay Gundogan 2597, Kevin De Bruyne 2582, Bernardo Silva 2475, Manuel Akanji 2408, Jack Grealish 2292, Nathan Ake 2189, Ruben Dias 2143, Phil Foden 2005
What’s perhaps key here is the quality of the players not on this list: Riyad Mahrez, Aymeric Laporte, Julian Alvarez, Kyle Walker, John Stones…
2) Tottenham – 11
Harry Kane 3312, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg 3083, Eric Dier 2982, Heung-min Son 2831, Hugo Lloris 2430, Ben Davies 2363, Pedro Porro 2286 (1950 for Sporting), Ivan Perisic 2338, Cristian Romero 2156, Rodrigo Bentancur 2127, Emerson Royal 2039.
That is an awful lot of football from Kane in what is already a record-breaking season, having thus far failed to pick up his customary ankle injury. He’s just about the only key Spurs player who hasn’t been injured at some point, with Rodrigo Bentancur a certainty not to add to his 2127, and Hugo Lloris set for a lengthy spell stuck on 2430. The good news for knackered Spurs players is that they are now out of all the cups and can concentrate on the Premier League, while the injury-forced refresh of the midfield with your Oliver Skipps (947) and Pape Matar Sarrs (390) was probably overdue. Whether a less rigid/stubborn manager would have made better use of those resources before having his hand forced feels like a very valid question too.
1) Manchester United – 12
Bruno Fernandes 3683, David De Gea 3600, Marcus Rashford 3148, Lisandro Martinez 2891, Wout Weghorst 2640 (1475 for Besiktas), Casemiro 2636, Luke Shaw 2587, Diogo Dalot 2387, Christian Eriksen 2276, Raphael Varane 2101, Antony 2085, Tyrell Malacia 2011
Manchester United are determined to play absolutely all of the football this season, finishing second in their Europa group to land a play-off against Barcelona and going the full distance in the Carabao too. Bruno Fernandes plays nearly all of the football and became the season’s first 3000-minute player, a club he has now been joined in by David De Gea and 2023’s deadliest striker Marcus Rashford. Tyrell Malacia being here feels mad, while the fact Wout Weghorst is already way past 1000 minutes for United having made 16 appearances for the club less than two months into his loan spell tells us… well it tells us something.
READ: Ranking the 20 Premier League teams by the market value of their squads: Liverpool above Man Utd…
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