The six biggest talking points as Premier League action and World Cup stars return
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Let the Premier League games begin, again.
The 2022 World Cup is now in the history books, with Lionel Messi's Argentina the top dogs. Premier League games return on Monday, December 26 with a rake of great games and continues unabated through the holidays.
There are seven Premier League ties on St Stephen's Day, two more on Tuesday, December 27 and Leeds hosting Manchester City on Wednesday, December 28. Over a three-day stretch, seven Premier League fixtures are available to stream with a NOW Sports Extra Membership.
Before we look ahead to a clatter of great league action, and where to stream the games, let us first get you up to speed:
So, where were we?
The last Premier League game before the World Cup saw Alejandro Garnacho snatch a last gasp victory for Manchester United against Fulham. That was back on Sunday, November 13.
That victory was enough to keep United in touching distance of the top four, but some 11 points back from Arsenal. The Gunners are five clear of Manchester City, the reigning champs, with Newcastle a further two points back.
Nottingham Forest and Southampton are in the relegation zone, with Wolves the surprise team at the foot of the table. Erling Haaland has a rude haul of 18 goals, leading Harry Kane by six, with Kevin De Bruyne (nine) top of the assist charts.
Who has the best 'World Cup bounce'?
This will be a closely monitored area over the coming weeks. Certain players - like Alexis Mac Allister, Marcus Rashford, John Stones , Emi Martinez and Mateo Kovacic - all had fine tournaments and will be looking to take their form from Qatar back to their clubs. Rashford scored a fine individual goal on his Manchester United return, against Burnley in the League Cup.
Argentinean and French players, who featured in the final, may not be seen until later in the festive fixtures, depending on whether their club feel they can spare them, or not.
Other players that featured in Qatar but were left disappointed, such as Christian Eriksen, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Wayne Hennessy, Harry Kane, Manuel Akanji, Leandro Trossard (apologies to that sextet!) and more, will be hoping to find form with their clubs.
There are four televised games in Ireland that can be watched with a NOW Sports Extra Membership, on Monday, December 26. They are:
- Bentford vs Spurs (12:30pm kick-off)
- Leicester vs Newcastle (3pm)
- Aston Villa vs. Liverpool (5:30pm)
- Arsenal vs. West Ham (8pm kick-off)
Can Arsenal keep up their brilliant form?
In terms of consecutive victories, Newcastle United will be the side that would have cursed the break more than any other. Arsenal, for all of their pre-season hopes, surely never imagined themselves being five points clear when the World Cup arrived.
The Gunners drew against Southampton, in late October, before rolling Nottingham Forest, Chelsea and Wolves with three straight wins.
Mike Arteta's side welcome West Ham to The Emirates on Monday, December 26th with kick-off at 8pm. You can stream Arsenal versus West Ham with a NOW Sports Extra Membership.
Erling Haaland is rested and HUNGRY for goals
Ahead of the World Cup break, Erling Haaland was being used more sparingly than at the start of an already goal-filled season.
The Norwegian picked up a hamstring strain and was on the bench for a few Manchester City games. He also missed Norway's two November friendlies, including a win over Ireland at Aviva Stadium.
Now fully rested and raring to go, Haaland will be trying to add to his 18 Premier League goals when Manchester City visit Elland Road. Leeds have conceded 26 goals in 14 league games, so will not be looking forward to seeing Haaland going full tilt.
Kick-off in that game is 8pm, on Wednesday, December 28th, and you can stream it with a NOW Sports Extra Membership.
Can Liverpool string a run together?
Jürgen Klopp's side won their final two matches before the World Cup break, but their 2-1 defeat to Leeds, in late October, was already their fourth of a difficult league campaign.
Liverpool head to Villa Park on Monday, December 26th and will have most of the seven players that featured at the World Cup available for selection. Only Ibrahim Konate may sit out the tie. Luis Diaz is set to miss out, but Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino should be rested and ready to cut loose.
You can stream Aston Villa versus Liverpool with a NOW Sports Extra Membership.
Teams that could do with some January moves
We will have two batches of Premier League in the books by the time January 2023 rolls around. By that stage, some teams and their supporters may be eagerly waiting for the winter transfer window to open.
Here are some World Cup players that could well be on the move in January, and the clubs they have already been linked with:
- Enzo Fernandez (Benfica) - Liverpool
- Sofyan Amrabat (Fiorentina) - Liverpool
- Joško Gvardiol (RB Leipzig) - Spurs/Chelsea
- Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton) - Arsenal
- Cody Gakpo (PSV Eindhoven) - Manchester United
- Gonçalo Ramos (Benfica) - Arsenal/Liverpool/Manchester United/Spurs
On Tuesday, December 27th you can stream two big Premier League games - Chelsea versus Bournemouth (5:30pm kick-off) and Manchester United versus Nottingham Forest (8pm kick-off) - with a NOW Sports Extra Membership.
Stream the biggest Premier League matches, from December 26 to 28, with a NOW Sports Extra Membership.