The World Cup is no doubt the greatest international tournament on earth, but its impact often resonates at club level too, which leaves us facing an interesting question – which Premier League club came out smelling the rosiest from the 2018 tournament in Russia?
Of course, there can be no clear winner to such an abstract query, so Football FanCast have narrowed this analytical exercise down to four key categories based on appearances, goals scored, assists and clean sheets.
Without further ado then, here’s our guide to which Premier League club won the World Cup…
With such heavy influence in the England and Belgium squads, their runs to the World Cup semi-final were always going to fare well for Tottenham. In fact, during the knockout stages of the tournament alone there were an impressive 28 appearances by Lilywhites players, nine more than London rivals Chelsea managed and a telling 26 more than local enemies Arsenal.
Chiefly through Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba, Manchester United were the Premier League’s second-most represented side, the latter missing just one game and one minute of France’s seven World Cup outings, while the likes of Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young featured prominently for England too.
But quantity doesn’t always mean quality and in terms of the club that had the most representatives at the most important stage of the competition, Chelsea just about nicked it with N’Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud starting for France in the final – giving them an extra appearance over Liverpool, Tottenham and United who all boasted one finalist each.
Tottenham once again come up smelling the rosiest after Harry Kane walked away from the tournament with the Golden Boot, the England striker responsible for precisely half of all the north London club’s World Cup strikes. Fellow Englishmen Dele Alli and Kieran Trippier – one of the players of the tournament – both found the net as well, while Jan Vertonghen inspired Belgium’s incredible comeback against Japan with that bizarre looping header.
Their second-biggest contributor though was Heung-min Son; carrying the hopes of South Korea, the speedy forward scored against Mexico and Germany but it wasn’t enough to take them to the knockout stages.
Manchester United, meanwhile, will wonder how they’ve finished second despite Romelu Lukaku reaching the semi-finals, the Belgium star needing spectacular goals from Jesse Lingard and the unlikely source of Marcos Rojo – that stunning volley against Nigeria – to bring the Red Devils’ total up to eight. But considering the record-breaking number of goals Manchester City scored in the Premier League last season, an incredible 106, their top scorer at the World Cup was rather surprisingly a defender as England centre-back John Stones twice netted from set pieces against Panama.
The big disappointment here once again though, is Arsenal; the only player to score a World Cup goal for them was Granit Xhaka – albeit a particularly delicious trademark piledriver – in a bitter-fought Group Stage win over Serbia.
Tottenham stars may have been putting them away but it was Chelsea providing the most consistent lines of supply. No player at this World Cup registered more than two assists, but Eden Hazard notched up two for Belgium with Olivier Giroud, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Victor Moses, Willian and the much forgotten Kenneth Omeruo – still technically a Chelsea player despite spending all six years of his Stamford Bridge career out on loan – getting in on the act as well.
In comparison, only Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Trippier could do the same for Spurs, while Arsenal were once again poorly represented with just a single assist, the same amount Nacer Chadli managed on his own for West Brom and half of what Leicester City racked up. Liverpool, however, were the worst performers amongst the Premier League’s big six without a single player assisting at the tournament.
With representatives between the sticks for France and in Belgium’s domineering backline, Tottenham were always going to do well on the clean sheets front.
Hugo Lloris was involved in three of France’s four clean sheets, benefiting greatly from the protection Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane provided in front of him, although the real star of the show here is probably Davinson Sanchez who saw just three goals go past him during the entire tournament – which also explains Arsenal’s two clean sheets, won by Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina.
In contrast, Vertonghen and Alderweireld took part in just one shutout each, despite making a combined ten appearances (playoff excluded) in total.
Croatia’s run to the final earned Liverpool two clean courtesy of Dejan Lovren, twice as many as Jordan Pickford managed in six appearances, but perhaps the real surprise here is Leicester City – Harry Maguire and Kasper Schmeichel both playing huge parts in England and Denmark’s respective World Cup campaigns.
Manchester United, meanwhile, may boast the goalkeeper many regard as the best in the Premier League, but David De Gea (even with the assistance of Victor Lindelof) couldn’t see the Red Devils beat Chelsea’s four.
So, which Premier League club do you think won the World Cup? Let us know by voting below…