ᑕ❶ᑐ Premier League: State of play as England’s top flight returns after World Cup

Premier League: State of play as England's top flight returns after World Cup
Arsenal are in the Premier League, winning but last game before the World Cup break, 2-0 against Wolves

The last time we saw the Premier League was on Sunday November 13, with Manchester United snatching an injury-time winner from Fulham.

Six weeks went by, in the course contained we were glued to events in Qatar, where Wales fell in the group stage and England again suffered a penalty, before Argentina lifted the FIFA Cup. moons 2022.

On December 26, the English top flight return, and just in case you’ve forgotten how we left it, BBC Sport will let you know.

The top view

Premier League: State of play as England's top flight returns after World Cup

Arsenal are top after a superb first 14 games of the campaign.

They have amassed 37 points, losing them in just two games so far – their only defeat at Manchester United comes in September.

After their best start to the Premier League, it’s the first time they’ve been top at Christmas since the 2007-08 season.

The seven teams that have won 12 of their first 14 games have won the Premier League title.

Another good omen for the Gunners is that the team that topped the table on Christmas Day have been champions in 10 of the last 13 seasons.

In their first match, against West Ham at the Emirates Stadium.

Second-placed Manchester City only played on December 28 – at Leeds – the Gunners’ thunderous victory eight points clear of the champions.

Newcastle – the surprise challengers at the top of the table – are at Leicester on December 26 and will want to pick up where they left off. A sixth straight win would put them above Manchester City and into second.

There are a few teams in the top half who would probably have appreciated being able to take stock during the World Cup before heading off again.

Tottenham beat Leeds before the break but had lost three of the previous four. They kick us off on Monday with an away game at Brentford (12:30 GMT).

Graham Potter’s Chelsea have not won in five Premier League games and passed the World Cup break in eighth.

down down

Premier League: State of play as England's top flight returns after World Cup

Based on the evidence from the first 14 or so games, this season’s relegation battle could be wide open.

Just nine points apart from the bottom 12 sides in the division, with Wolves backing everyone up.

Six teams were down over Christmas and stayed up – half of them in the first 3 Premier League campaigns – but Wanderers will look to reverse that trend with a new man at the helm.

Julen Lopetegui took charge on November 14 and is already seeing big improvements, including in his squad, the flying Spaniard six new recruits at the opening of the transfer window January 1st.

Southampton also made a managerial change shortly before the break, with Nathan Jones arriving from Luton to replace sacked Ralph Hasenhuttl at St Mary’s. The Saints have lost their last 3 games and are 19th, two points from safety.

It’s perhaps surprising that we no longer see clubs opting for a change, the world cup effectively offers a mini pre-season to mid-campaign.

Everton have stuck with manager Frank Lampard despite being 17th after two straight defeats, and David Moyes remains West Ham boss even though they have lost three on the trot and prove just a point above the bottom three.

The impact of the world cup

Premier League: State of play as England's top flight returns after World Cup
Jesus had knee surgery in early December.

An intense mid-season World Cup always brought risks of fatigue and blessings for the players.

Arsenal bosses may well be the hardest hit following a Serious knee injury to Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus.

It could well be late February before we see him back in action after what had been an impressive start for the Gunners, although he had seen him fail to score in six league games before the break.

On the other hand, despite being the most players of any club at the World Cup with 16, Manchester City have no injuries to report.

The majority of their representatives in Qatar were knocked out of the tournament in the semi-finals, with Argentina’s Julian Alvarez failing the last eight.

Moreover, Premier League top scorer Erling Haaland was given a five-week rest, ready to come back and try to add to his remarkable tally of 18 goals in 13 appearances. The Norwegian striker played his first game for City since November loss by Brentford in a 2-0 friendly win over Girona on December 17, and scored, as did Belgian Kevin de Bruyne.

A keen interest will be poured to know which players who were injured before the World Cup will be ready for action again.

The tastes of ReeceJames and Wesley Fofana at Chelsea, Newcastle striker Alexander Isak and Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin could all return, although Liverpool striker Luis Diaz has undergone knee surgery and faces another three months.

Fixtures are thick and fast

In order to integrate the world cup into the domestic season, matches will now be played regularly so that all matches can be filled in a timely manner.

By the end of January, there are five series of top-flight English matches. This all comes after some clubs were featured in the Fourth Carabao Cup Tourthese games having taken place from 20 to 22 December.

Moreover, the FA Cup 3rd Tour Will be played from January 6-9, before select teams represent European play in mid-February.

Premier League: State of play as England's top flight returns after World Cup

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Premier League: State of play as England's top flight returns after World Cup

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