Title race, battle for the top four and relegation scrap: the Premier League is back | Premier league

The title race

When the Premier League festivities resume on Boxing Day, the smart money is in Arsenal and manchester city fighting for the title until May in what could be a contest for history. Leading their teams in a classic matchup between masters and apprentices is City’s near-unrivaled manager Pep Guardiola and his former assistant and now Arsenal’s No. 1 Mikel Arteta.

The story of the film so far is fascinating. Arteta’s suitors are the young propellers who have a five-point advantage but who could be without Gabriel Jesús until February. Their goal tally is 33 with 11 conceded, the joint lowest in the division, and on captain Martin Ødegaard (who is 24), Bukayo Saka (21), Gabriel Martinelli (21), Ben White (25), Aaron Ramsdale (24) and William Saliba (21) Arsenal they have an effervescent core led by the vibrant Arteta.

Guardiola’s seasoned defenders are reigning champions, having scored a division-high 40 and their 18-goal phenom Erling Haaland enjoyed six weeks off before scoring again. against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup. City have looted four of the last five Premier League titles and Kevin De Bruyne, Kyle Walker, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish are some of their other main acts.

In this season interrupted by the World Cup, both teams have played 14 games, but have yet to meet. Keep February 15 and April 26 free on the daily for City’s visit to the Emirates and the reverse match to see how each will hope to undo the other plus, of course, the fascinating sideshow of two spirited managers trying to keep calm on the sideline.

Viewers of Arsenal’s All or Nothing, which aired last term, were offered a glimpse of Arteta’s sometimes left-field methods (a floating lightbulb appearing in a team talk) and thoroughly likable personality. You’ll be impressed with how his team has gone from the late-season meltdown that ended in fifth place, featured in the Amazon documentary, to the apparent real deal this season. Arsenal’s only setback has been in manchester united and they have lost just two points since then.

Mikel Arteta talks to his players during Arsenal's game against Wolves at the Molineux
Mikel Arteta lights up some of his Arsenal players during a team talk. Photograph: David Price/Arsenal FC/Getty Images

City have two losses on the undercard. November’s frenzied 1-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield in which Jürgen Klopp was sent off. Y Brentford landslide 2-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium in his last outing before the Qatar 2022 layoff.

Five points isn’t a huge margin, but it indicates an Arsenal team that won’t be going anywhere between now and the spring months when the championship is decided. Newcastle Unitedtwo more points behind City, and Tottenham (three), may believe they can still force themselves in the contest, but in reality this looks destined to play out like a head-to-head storybook of two boxers: the team that he was the last best in England. in 2004 and the current headlines.

Battle for the top four

Only three Premier league Teams have broken the grip of the usual suspects over Champions League standings in the last 20 years: Leicester, when they won the title in 2016, Everton in 2005 and Newcastle in 2003 (only the top three in England qualified when they finished quarters in 2001-02). It is St James’ Park that harbors the biggest threat to the closed shop once again. History may suggest otherwise, but in pre-World Cup form, the odds should be firm on Eddie Howe posting a top-four finish in the first full season since the money started flowing from Saudi Arabia.

Taking the title race to be a shootout between Arsenal and Manchester City, and Newcastle may disagree given their winning run before half-time, six teams are left vying for the remaining two Champions League spots, from side from Howe in third to a plummeting Chelsea in eighth. Newcastle, who resume their league campaign at Leicester on Boxing Day, have made the strongest case for inclusion by far in a season in which they lost once in all competitions and won seven of eight league games before the World Cup. There could be no clearer statement about his credentials than the performance that he secured 2-1 win at Tottenham.

Newcastle's Miguel Almiron (left) is hugged by Callum Wilson after scoring against Tottenham
Newcastle’s Miguel Almiron (left) is hugged by Callum Wilson after scoring against Tottenham. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA

Fourth-placed Spurs are still in contention but were floundering ahead of the World Cup. Antonio Conte had no doubts about the misgivings about his style among the fans during a streak of three defeats in five league games, with an elimination from the Carabao Cup in nottingham forest thrown badly. Harry Kane’s laborious performances in Qatar and the burden carried by Son Heung-min will be further cause for concern. Richarlison’s elevated status and self-confidence after a good campaign with Brazil offer the counterbalance.

Graham Potter has bigger problems in London after making a disappointing start to his chelsea reign. The 2021 European champions are eight points off fourth, albeit one game less than Spurs, who haven’t won a Premier League game since Oct. 16. New co-owner Todd Boehly may already be sweating from his investment and decision-making.

Potter’s old club Brighton are level on points with the new but, despite an excellent recruiting strategy on display on the World Cup stage, strength in depth can count against a sustained challenge over the next five months. All of which points to a possible duel between Manchester United and Liverpool for the golden ticket that its respective American owners have taken for granted at various points in his tenure. united we are now downloaded from the saga of Cristiano Ronaldo. Liverpool had just started to click again when the league came to a halt and they have a habit of finishing strong under Klopp.

But everyone is catching up to the growing threat from the Northeast.

descent scrap

At this time of year, there are usually a handful of teams particularly short on festive cheer who have swallowed the statistic that only three Christmas-bottom clubs have escaped slump since the Premier League’s inception 30 years ago, Leicester last to do so in 2014. 15. But the picture is a bit skewed this season: teams have played a couple fewer games at this stage than in previous years, and the World Cup break provided the perfect opportunity for reboot, revitalize and, as today’s trainer almost will. Without a doubt, testify, get on the pitch with your players.

A nine-point blanket covers 11 teams from ninth-placed Fulham to bottom-placed Wolves. If anything, perhaps those heading into Boxing Day in the relegation zone are more bullish than a couple above the dotted line. Julen Lopetegui will take charge of his first league game for Wolves at Everton this Monday, with his arrival at the center of the restructuring that has brought a new sports director and, they hope, Matheus Cunha as the first of several new faces in the month from January. window.

Southampton are also hoping to improve under Nathan Jones after a win in their last 10 league games, the worst run in the division. Nottingham Forest’s fortunes changed with win against Liverpool in October (they have lost once since then, to leaders Arsenal) and a shift towards a more pragmatic approach is paying off. Evangelos Marinakis spent around £150m in the summer and Gustavo Scarpa, a free agent who this month became his 23rd signing of the season, is unlikely to be the last to walk through the City Ground door.

Forest isn’t the only team with big plans. Unai Emery was not drawn to Aston Villa by the lure of a relegation battle and Leicester, after a sinister start, will be hoping to push forward further under Brendan Rodgers after four wins in their last five games. The heat is on for Frank Lampard at Everton and David Moyes at West Ham, with both teams a point clear of the bottom three after a worrying run before half-time.

Bournemouth, the 10th American-owned top-flight club after billionaire £120m acquisition of Bill Foley, are also determined to cause a sensation. Foley, 78, who recently described himself as a dictator, said he knows his aggressive approach to business could rile up his rivals. “I’m not here to make friends with other team owners,” he said, and Bournemouth are targeting up to five new signings after giving Gary O’Neil the manager’s job.

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