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Premier League: State of play as English top flight returns after World Cup

World Cup
Premier League State of play as English top flight returns after World Cup (2)

The Premier League was last seen on Sunday, November 13, when Manchester United won against Fulham in sudden death.

There have been six weeks since the events in Qatar, where Wales were eliminated at the group stage and England once again struggled on penalty kicks until Argentina won the 2022 World Cup.

The English top flight will resume on December 26. In case you didn’t remember where we left off, BBC Sport will catch you up.

The view from the top

After a terrific start to the season with 14 wins, Arsenal is in the lead.

They currently have 37 points after dropping just two games, with their lone loss coming at Manchester United in early September.

This is the first time since the 2007–08 campaign that they will be in first place at Christmas after their best Premier League start.

The Premier League title has been won by all seven teams that have won 12 of their first 14 games.

Another encouraging sign for the Gunners is that the side that finished first in the standings on Christmas Day has won the league title 10 times in the last 13 years.

At Emirates Stadium, they play West Ham in their first game back.

With second-placed Manchester City’s match at Leeds scheduled for December 28, a win for the Gunners would put them eight points ahead of the league leaders.

On December 26, Newcastle—the unexpected competitors at the top of the table—will travel to Leicester and hope to continue their winning ways. A sixth straight victory would put them ahead of Manchester City and into second place.

A few teams in the top half will likely have valued the opportunity to reflect during the World Cup before continuing.

Prior to the break, Tottenham defeated Leeds after dropping the previous three. On Monday, they start us off with an away game against Brentford.

Graeme Potter Chelsea spent the World Cup break in seventh place and has not won in five Premier League games.

Down at the bottom

The relegation fight this season may be extremely close based on the results of the first 14 or so games.

With Wolves supporting everyone, there are only nine points separating the lowest 12 teams in the division.

With a new manager in charge, Wanderers will be attempting to break the record of only six teams that have ever been last at Christmas and remained in the Premier League, with half of those occurring in the first three seasons.

Since taking over on November 14, Julen Lopetegui has already set enormous goals for himself, including strengthening his team. When the transfer market opens on January 1st, the Spaniard wants to bring in six new players.

Just before the break, Southampton made another management change. Ralph Hasenhuttl was fired, and Nathan Jones was brought in from Luton to take his position at St. Mary’s. The Saints are 19th and two points from a playoff spot after losing their last three games.

Perhaps surprisingly, given that the World Cup served as a sort of mini-preseason in the middle of the season, no more clubs have chosen to switch things up.\

Frank Lampard is still in charge of Everton, which is currently in 17th place after two straight losses, while David Moyes is still in charge of West Ham, which has lost three straight games and is just one point above the bottom three.

The impact of the World Cup

An intense World Cup in the middle of the season always put players at danger for tiredness and harm.

Leaders Due to Brazil forward Gabriel Jesus’ significant knee injury, Arsenal may be the team to suffer the most.

After what had been a remarkable start to his tenure with the Gunners, albeit one that had seen him fail to score in six league games before the break, it may not be until late February before we see him in action again.

Manchester City, in comparison, has the most players at the World Cup (16), although there are yet no injuries to report.

By the semi-finals, the bulk of their Qatari representatives had left the competition, with only Julian Alvarez of Argentina remaining.

Erling Haaland, the Premier League’s top scorer, has also had five weeks to recover. He will return and attempt to improve to his astounding total of 18 goals in 13 games. On December 17, the Norwegian forward scored with Kevin de Bruyne of Belgium in a 2-0 friendly victory against Girona, his first game for City since their loss to Brentford in November.

Which players who sustained injuries prior to the World Cup will be ready for duty once more will be closely watched.

Reece James and Wesley Fofana of Chelsea, Alexander Isak of Newcastle, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin of Everton might all make a comeback, but Luis Diaz of Liverpool will miss another three months after undergoing knee surgery.

Fixtures come thick and fast

Matches will now be played often in order to accommodate the World Cup into the domestic season and complete all ties on time.

The English top-flight schedule consists of five rounds between now and the end of January. These all come after certain clubs participated in the Carabao Cup fourth round, which took place from December 20 to 22.

Additionally, the FA Cup third round will take place from January 6 to January 9, and then some teams will resume their European schedule in mid-February.