A scintillating FIFA World Cup has come to an end and it seems like a lifetime ago that Premier League football was even remotely relevant.
Discussions over Arsenal and Man City’s title fight, Liverpool’s stuttering season, Chelsea’s indifference, and Newcastle’s ascendency feel as though they took place eons ago, yet the league is set to return in a matter of days.
Most people will mourn the end of a solid World Cup edition, however, I am welcoming the return to normality. Prior to the World Cup break, this season was shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable and chaotic in recent memory. Shocks, surprises, VAR drama, and wonderful goals seem to be the norm this season, and I hope the intensity of the first half of the season hasn’t disappeared.
Perhaps the biggest story of the season is Arsenal’s surprisingly-solid form. Though the Gunners were a decent side last season, not many would have predicted they’d be leading the table heading into the New Year. They are, of course, only a point ahead of Man City, and the table could quickly change, but we can’t ignore the credentials of Mikel Arteta’s men.
The other large talking point is the superb form of Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United. Howe, who was despondent after Bournemouth’s relegation in 2020, has built a side who can go toe-to-toe with anybody. The Magpies have drawn against both Manchester City and Manchester United this season, as well as registering impressive wins over Spurs, Southampton and Brentford.
Chelsea and Manchester United have been flat, though hopefully the World Cup break will play into their favour and make the race for top four a little more exciting in early 2023.
World Cup Impact
It’ll also be interesting to see what, if any, affect the World Cup final will have on squads. Tottenham Hotspur’s Hugo Lloris and Cristian Romero both featured in the classic final on 18 December, as did Manchester United’s centre-back duo, Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez. Will the fallout from the final cause any uncertainty within these camps? It remains to be seen.
I’ve truly missed the English Premier League, and I hope that its return does not disappoint.
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