It was confirmed on Monday that FIFA’s rearranged 2021 Club World Cup will now be taking place in the United Arab Emirates between 3rd and 12th February 2022. With Chelsea representing Europe following their Champions League success of May, it means they will be missing Gameweeks 24 and 25 in FPL.
Originally scheduled to be a December tournament in Japan, plans changed due to Covid. It means that the Blues will go almost a month without playing a Premier League match between the 23rd January hosting of Tottenham and the 19th February trip to Crystal Palace.
This will inevitably lead to Double Gameweeks down the line, with opponents Brighton (GW24) and Arsenal (GW25) also affected.
WHERE COULD THE GAMES BE RESCHEDULED TO?
Right now it’s pure guesswork, as rearranging depends on progression in both the EFL Cup and FA Cup.
The earliest possible date would be Gameweek 21, where there is a two-week gap until Gameweek 22 due to the FA Cup Third round.
Both those midweeks are currently pencilled in for the two legs of EFL Cup semi-finals so, if Chelsea and Arsenal lose their quarter finals in the final days before Christmas, there is a place for for that match to slot into. Brighton are already out.
The midweek between Gameweeks 22 and 23 is also free but needs the teams to avoid an FA Cup replay.
The league has a winter break between 23rd January and 8th February but the weekend of 5th/6th February could, in theory, be free should both Chelsea and either Brighton or Arsenal be eliminated in the FA Cup Third Round.
As the Premier League tends to avoid placing matches on Champions League nights, the next possibility is Gameweek 27. This midweek after the EFL Cup Final is the place of FA Cup Fifth Round, therefore a Double Gameweek here will depend on how Chelsea, Arsenal, Brighton and Leicester (GW27 opponent) have progressed.
The best chance of Double Gameweeks for any outstanding league games will be these two late spots. Gameweek 33 is also the weekend of FA Cup semi-finals, so the free midweek that follows may be taken up by league matches nudged down from the weekend.
This is a long time away in May but, if nothing else fits, this may have to be the place. Yet the FA Cup Final happens on the Saturday of Gameweek 37.
HOW TO COPE
For those with Chelsea defenders such as Reece James, Antonio Rudiger or Marcos Alonso, one immediate action would be to look at your usual bench-warmers, in case one of them has promising fixtures that can simply step into their place during Gameweeks 24 and 25.
But Tino Livramento (£4.6m) of Southampton has Tottenham (a) and Man United (a), Conor Coady (£4.5m) faces both North London sides and Brandon Williams (£3.9m) has Crystal Palace (H) and Man City (a). Ben White (£4.4m) and Shane Duffy (£4.3m), of course, are part of the cancellations.
Of the cheaper defenders, Aston Villa have Matt Targett (£4.7m) facing Leeds (H) and Newcastle (a). Crystal Palace options like Marc Guehi (£4.5m) and Tyrick Mitchell (£4.5m) have trips to both Norwich and Brentford, whereas Tottenham have a pair of home matches againat Southampton and Wolves for Eric Dier (£4.5m). All promising.
If managers end up with attacking options like Romelu Lukaku (£11.5m) or Mason Mount (£7.5m), players from that trio of sides plus Man City, Man United and Everton present good transfer options.