The five biggest talking points ahead of the Premier League's return
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The Premier League is back! It's back with a bang.
November and much of December were taken up with World Cup action so when the tournament finally ended on Sunday December 18, it was hard to get used to life without it.
Thankfully, the Premier League stepped up, just in time, to fill that sizeable void in our lives with some exciting fixtures over the festive period and beyond.
Here are the five biggest talking points as the international players return to their clubs, and as club football gets going again.
1. Can Arsenal keep it up?
Mikel Arteta's Gunners have undoubtedly been the story of the season. Led by the likes of Granit Xhaka, they have only lost one match so far this season - a thriller against Manchester United - and that's why, as we begin a new year, they're sitting pretty at the top of the table.
No matter who you talk to, there still seems to be a sense of inevitability, however, that Manchester City will reel them in.
There's no question about it, the month off will have stalled Arsenal's momentum so this is when it gets serious. Everyone's waiting for them to stumble. They haven't stumbled yet...but now that the early season momentum has faded, will they be able to pick up from where they left off and keep going at the rate they were going?
2. Is there a kick in Liverpool yet?
Liverpool's stock has fallen something serious since the beginning of the season so, unlike Arsenal, maybe the break will do them good. The break would certainly have done no harm to the likes of Mohammed Salah, who didn't qualify for the World Cup, and Roberto Firmino, who wasn't chosen on the Brazil squad.
These are two key men for the Reds and while others like Virgil van Dijk and Jordan Henderson were in action in Qatar, the break will have done Jurgen Klopp's side no harm in general. They're currently languishing in mid-table, well behind City and Arsenal, but can they bounce back, to recapture former glories.
3. Can Graham Potter turn things around?
The football wasn't great but the results were okay for Graham Potter early on in his tenure until, suddenly, just before the World Cup, everything went pear-shaped for the Englishman and his Chelsea team.
Their football was lifeless, it was boring and the results followed with Chelsea winning none of their last five games before the break. Roman Abramovich wouldn't have stood for it - we all know about the club's former owner's impatient ways - but time will tell if his successor Todd Boehly is cut from the same or a different cloth.
No matter what cloth he's cut from, there's no denying that Potter needs to pick it up. And going on the amount of money they spent this summer, he needs to pick it up fast.
4. Were Newcastle United a flash in the pan?
Arsenal are top of the League, but Newcastle United are arguably the story of the league so far. With the dependable Kieran Trippier leading their resolute back four in front of the brilliant Nick Pope in goals, the Toon army have the most resolute defence in the League. They flew into the international break, racing into third place in the table and the big question is whether they can spring a real shock, and hold onto a Champions League spot by the end of the season.
5. Who's going down?
As ever, action at the bottom of the table is even more exciting than what's going on at the top. Who's going to go down, who's going to survive by the skins of their teeth. It certainly seems like it's going to be another barnstormer of a relegation battle with the likes of Nottingham Forest, Wolves and Southampton bringing up the rear. Can they claw their way back to survival city, or will they go back down to the championship.
All will be revealed.