Manchester United and Tottenham lead the way in 2000-minute club as fixtures mount

The already daft 2022/23 fixture list is hitting its daftest point of all with cup commitments and the imminent return of European football making for a heady brew. Manchester United, for instance, have been playing every four games (at best) since returning to post-World Cup Premier League action on December 27 and will continue playing every four days (at best) until at least February 26.

Chuck in a Carabao game on December 21 and in little more than two months United will have played 19 games of football. 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. Aston Villa – 0
Nearest: Ezri Konsa 1761

That’s 20 minutes more than central-defensive partner Tyrone Mings but still less than any other club’s busiest player. With Villa improving fast in the league and out of both cups, they are one team who won’t be able to point to exhaustion as a reason for failure this season. They absolutely could lift themselves into European contention as long as Liverpool and Chelsea continue struggling to find their arseholes with both hands.

19. Bournemouth – 0
Nearest: Adam Smith 1818

A quirk of Bournemouth’s minutes is that if you limit it to just the Premier League they have no goalkeeper even over 1000 minutes, which is rare. Mark Travers has done 944 minutes, Neto 855. Is that interesting? Not really, but what do you want us to talk about – Chris Mepham’s 1612 minutes of Bournemouth action this season?

18. Brighton – 0
Nearest: Pascal Gross 1862, Solly March 1862

Lewis Dunk is only a couple of minutes behind, with Moises Caicedo also a couple of games shy of the 2000-minute mark. They’re going to go from none to four very quickly.

17. Fulham – 0
Nearest: Tim Ream 1888

Fulham have played the least amount of football of anyone this season, having successfully managed to be the only Premier League team to get knocked out in round two of the Carabao. Tim Ream isn’t bothered about the cup trivialities, though, devoting himself instead to playing all but two minutes of the Cottagers’ surprisingly effective Premier League campaign thus far.

16. Brentford – 0
Nearest: David Raya 1890

Rico Henry has been Brentford’s busiest outfield player, racking up 1778 minutes in 21 appearances with Ben Mee (1750) and Ivan Toney (1720) unsurprisingly close behind.

15. Leeds – 0
Nearest: Illan Meslier 1890

Surprisingly few goalkeepers near the top of these lists. First-choicers always seem to have a little day off for the cup games these days, don’t they?

14. Nottingham Forest – 0
Nearest: Brennan Johnson 1919

You don’t buy 20 new players to flog them past the 2000-minute barrier as quickly as possible, Carabao run or no Carabao run. Although one of the rare Forest players who was already at the City Ground looks set to be first across that particular line having featured in 25 of Forest’s 26 games this season so far.

13. Everton – 0
Nearest: Alex Iwobi 1962

Everton’s problem – haha, like Everton have just one – it 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 700 minutes, and Andros Townsend who hasn’t kicked a ball this season due to injury.

12. Crystal Palace – 0
Nearest: Marc Guehi 1980

Given he’s played every minute of every other Palace game this season in all competitions, it’s fair to assume Guehi would be past that 2000-minute mark now had he not been suspended for the 3-0 defeat against Fulham after racking up five bookings. He’s now up to seven bookings; if the manager won’t give you a rest I guess sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands.

11. Leicester – 0
Nearest: Danny Ward 1980

Ward will get there shortly, with Youri Tielemans only needing to make it six minutes past half-time when he next plays to join him. Harvey Barnes and Timothy Castagne are a couple of games away. How Leicester must wish James Maddison was a bit more than barely halfway there.

10 Chelsea – 0
Nearest: Thiago Silva 1998

Don’t know what we enjoy more: that a Champions League team has managed to have zero 2000-minuters 28 games into the season, or that the closest player to that arbitrary yet pleasingly round landmark figure is the oldest member of the squad. Chelsea even have only three players over 1800 minutes (Mason Mount and Kai Havertz the others) but, given where their season currently has them, maybe they actually should have picked their best players more often? Or maybe they’re going to sweep past the other more knocked down teams on the run-in?

9. West Ham – 2
Jarrod Bowen 2183, Declan Rice 2096

No surprise to see the names of the two players in the gang from West Ham, for whom having only two represents a decent effort given their Europa Conference exertions mean they’ve played 30 games already this season.

Jarrod Bowen and Declan Rice celebrate a goal

8. Wolves – 3
Max Kilman 2160, Ruben Neves 2097, Jose Sa 2070

Surprising numbers from a non-European side but they did reach the Carabao quarter-finals and take Liverpool to an FA Cup replay. Kilman and Sa have both been ever-present in the Premier League, with the two Liverpool FA Cup games Kilman’s only time off this season. And he was still on the bench.

7. Newcastle – 3
Nick Pope 2160, Kieran Trippier 2143, Dan Burn 2013

The Carabao run has tipped three of top-four botherers Newcastle’s key players over the 2000 mark already with five more – Longstaff, Joelinton, Schar, Almiron, Botman – within 90 minutes of joining them. For a club not in Europe, it’s a lot. Whether Newcastle (yet) have the depth to maintain a Champions League push across a uniquely challenging season is one of the key questions to be answered over the coming months.

6. Arsenal – 3
Gabriel Margalhaes 2203, Granit Xhaka 2017, Gabriel Martinelli 2016

Good effort for a team to be top of the Premier League and through directly to the Europa League knockout stage while condemning only three players to a 2000-minute workload. Bukayo Saka and William Saliba are within a game of joining them, but still. For all the talk of Arsenal’s lack of squad depth they are not exactly smashing the same starting XI to bits over and over again here.

5. Southampton – 3
James Ward-Prowse 2280, Gavin Bazunu 2160, Mohammed Salisu 2088

Only six Premier League players have racked up more minutes in all competitions for their club this season than Ward-Prowse, an absurd effort for a player outside Europe. He has quite often looked like the only Southampton player with the first clue of what’s happening or what the team is trying to achieve, so it’s no great surprise he doesn’t sit much out.

4. Manchester City – 3
Rodri 2355, Ederson 2250, Kevin De Bruyne 2046

No surprises in the three to tick past the 2000 minutes for Manchester City this season, nor in the fact Erling Haaland is only a couple of minutes shy of joining them. His 1998 minutes of action have brought a mere 31 goals, or one every 64 and a half minutes. Which is silly.

3. Liverpool – 3
Mohamed Salah 2423, Alisson 2340, Virgil van Dijk 2115

Liverpool have certainly looked to capitalize 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 29 games this season, starting 27 of them. One conspicuous game in which he didn’t start was Rangers away in the Champions League. He only got 22 minutes that night, but made the most of them with an absurd six-minute hat-trick in a 7-1 win.

2. Manchester United – 5
Bruno Fernandes 2535, David De Gea 2520, Christian Eriksen 2219, Marcus Rashford 2175, Lisandro Martinez 2033

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 almost certainly going all the way in the Carabao too. Bruno Fernandes plays nearly all of this absolutely all of the football. There are only three Premier League players with over 2500 minutes on the clock and two of them are at United. Casemiro and Diogo Dalot are within a couple of games of the 2000 club.

1. Tottenham – 5
Harry Kane 2567, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg 2363, Eric Dier 2352, Hugo Lloris 2340, Heung-min Son 2105

Thats an absurd amount of football from Kane in what is already a record-breaking season. It’s not just more than anyone else, it’s lots more than almost everyone with only Bruno Fernandes and Mo Salah within a couple of hundred minutes of Kane among outfield players. Doesn’t include Nations League or World Cup remember. This is just Spurs stuff, for which Kane has been on the field a total of 2567 out of 2610 minutes this season. He’s missed less than one half of club football all season, and half an hour of the 43 minutes he has been given off came in the Carabao.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *