How Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham and Crystal Palace fit into Gareth Southgate’s World Cup plans
ngland confirmed their place at next winter’s World Cup with thumping wins over Albania and San Marino, and the battle to be included in Gareth Southgate’s squad for Qatar is already under way.
There were six players from London clubs in this summer’s 26-man European Championship squad – three from Chelsea and one each from Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham – but nine London-based players were involved this month, not including regulars Mason Mount and Declan Rice, suggesting a growing influence for capital clubs.
Squads are expected to return to 23 players for the World Cup, which will make it incredibly tough for Southgate to whittle down the numbers given the talent at his disposal.
Standard Sport assessed which players at the five leading London clubs are currently in contention for Qatar.
It’s at least five years since Arsenal could boast a steady cohort of England regulars but that may be changing, reflecting their steady improvement.
Bukayo Saka enjoyed a breakthrough summer, showing the rest of the country what Arsenal fans already knew, and this month he was joined in the squad by goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and Emile Smith Rowe, who both made debuts.
Ramsdale’s eye-catching displays since joining Arsenal suggest he could be a genuine challenger to Jordan Pickford, while Smith Rowe faces stiff competition but has the quality and character to appeal to Southgate.
Ben White, an unused member of the Euros squad, can count himself unlucky to have missed out this month and is part of a promising group of young centre-backs hoping to oust Conor Coady or Tyrone Mings – also including Londonders Marc Guehi, Trevoh Chalobah and Fikayo Tomori.
England are well stocked at full-back but, as it stands, Reece James and Ben Chillwell have the edge over their rivals and look good bets to be first choice in Qatar.
Centre-half Chalobah, 22, will be hoping to be among the players to breakthrough in the next year but that will depend on his opportunities in Thomas Tuchel’s stacked squad.
The same is true for Callum Hudson-Odoi, who may have harmed his chances by turning down an Under-21 call-up this month. If Hudson-Odoi had joined Lee Carsley’s squad, he might have been promoted ahead of Smith Rowe or Conor Gallagher.
Barring catastrophe, Mason Mount will add guile and energy to Southgate’s midfield but Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will surely have to move clubs to have a chance of an unlikely England revival.
Just as interesting is the academy players who have left Chelsea. Tariq Lamptey, Guehi, Tomori, Tino Livramento and Tammy Abraham were all deemed not good enough for the Blues but are currently in Southgate’s thinking.
England representatives from Palace have been few and far between this century but they could finish this season with two players in the squad.
Loanee Gallagher made his debut on Monday and will hope for more appearances in March before returning to parent club Chelsea in the summer.
The question for the 21-year-old may be whether a return to Stamford Bridge would accelerate or slow his international ambitions. Loftus-Cheek and Barkley serve as warnings.
Guehi, meanwhile, a permanent signing from Stamford Bridge, was name-checked by Southgate this month and is part of the manager’s thinking, while Eberechi Eze is one to keep an eye on when he returns to full fitness.
Harry Kane is a shoo-in and Oliver Skipp is a promising talent, who could come into contention in the next year.
It will be fascinating to see if Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Winks can revive their England careers now Antonio Conte is in charge.
Southgate said leaving Dier out of his Euros squad was his hardest decision but it was the right call based on form. Winks and Dele have dramatically fallen away from contention but once looked a big part of England’s future. They have no more excuses for underperformance with Conte in the dugout.
At his best, Winks is exactly the type of player England have missed in the big games: someone who passes the ball for the sake of it and can keep them ticking over in possession.
Manager David Moyes has talked about wanting to make West Ham the club of England again but, at the moment, Declan Rice is the only Hammers player near the squad following Michail Antonio’s decision to represent Jamaica.
Rice is only getting better and seems certain to grow in importance for club and country in the next 12 months.
Moyes has called for England recognition for Jarrod Bowen but the competition for places in wide areas is surely too stiff. Re-signing Jesse Lingard, a big Southgate favourite, would be one way of increasing their numbers.