Following a month of action-packed FIFA World Cup action, the Premier League returns on Boxing Day after a few weeks break.
Most clubs have been involved in friendlies or Carabao Cup action recently but most players would have returned to their club after a thrilling World Cup. But why should you be excited for the return of the Premier League?
The return of Haaland
Norway failed to qualify for the World Cup meaning Erling Haaland could not keep hitting the back of the net for Manchester City. He had to watch the World Cup from home as he saw teammate Julián Álvarez lift the 22nd the World Cup. The prolific goal-scorer set the Premier League alight as he scored 18 in 13 Premier League outings, as well as five goals in the UEFA Champions League. Haaland will be raring to go as his side travel to Leeds United on the 28th December, expect plenty more goals to come from him this season.
New managers at the helm
Wolverhampton Wanderers had a very poor opening half to the season with two wins in their 15 games. Bruno Lage was relieved of his duties in October following many disappointing performances and former Spain, Real Madrid and Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui took over just the break for the World Cup. He picked up his first victory at Molineux in a 2-0 win over Gillingham in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, putting his side in the hat for the quarter-finals.
Also, Gary O’Neil was appointed as Bournemouth’s manager during the break after an interim spell with the Cherries. O’Neil guided them away from the relegation zone and he showed what he is capable of with impressive wins over Nottingham Forest and Everton in particular. A move for Marcelo Bielsa didn’t materialise which was probably for the better, O’Neil was a shrewd appointment.
Arsenal looking to maintain title push
To the surprise of many, Arsenal were quickly in the picture for the Premier League title. A defeat to Manchester United and a draw to Southampton were the times that the Gunners had dropped points in the Premier League this season. Mikel Arteta’s well-oiled machine are five points ahead of second-placed Manchester City with both teams meeting at the end of April – a potentially title-defining clash. Arsenal will most likely look to add to their squad in January but most importantly, the red side of north London would like a return to Champions League football.
Upcoming January transfer window
The January transfer window looks set to be another compelling watch as Premier League teams look to strengthen their squad for the second half of the season. Matheus Cunha of Atlético Madrid looks set to join Wolves on loan before making a £40m move, according to The Daily Mail. David Datro Fofana, a young talent from Ivory Coast from Norwegian club Molde, is on the verge of moving to Chelsea while Arsenal are interested in Ukrainian rising star Mykhailo Mudryk.
Enticing race for Europe
There are a number of teams that could finish in the European places, whether that be in the Champions League, Europa League or Europa Conference League. Newcastle United sit in third having had a spectacular campaign so far, while Tottenham Hotspur are one point behind them in fourth on 29 points. Manchester United and Liverpool are currently in the Europa League places and Brighton & Hove Albion occupy seventh place.
Newcastle look set to secure some kind of European football this season and a place in the Champions League certainly isn’t beyond them. Spurs, despite being criticised for their style of play, will be looking to finish in a Champions League place in consecutive seasons.
Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool, at their standards, have had a disappointing season so far and Manchester United have impressed with an exciting, attacking team. The question is if Brighton will be able to maintain their European place – it will be an incredible achievement if they are able to.