EPL: Arsenal look real deal, Newcastle relentless and Tottenham fickle as battle resumes | Football News

LONDON: After an unprecedented mid-season stoppage due to the Qatar World Cup, the premier league come alive during the festive holidays with a set of exceptional lighting fixtures.
The 44-day shutdown gave top managers time to gather their thoughts while players not involved in Qatar could recharge their batteries.
Monday’s rematch was also an opportunity for those jostling at the top of the table to set a milestone and for the wrestlers to make a fresh start.
But what have we learned so far from an absorbing holiday program which ends later on Wednesday with champions Manchester City taking on Leeds United?
When Mikel Arteta’s table tops fell behind early on against struggling West Ham United, there were murmurs around the Emirates Stadium – with fans perhaps fearing the pre-break momentum of Arsenal was lost.
The way they responded, however, underscored that Arsenal’s Christmas lead in the Premier League for the first time since 2007 was justified and that they could stop.
There was bluster about Arteta’s side as they fought back with goals from Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah to win 3-1 and open a seven-point lead.
Former manager Arsene Wenger, back in the stands, would have been impressed as Arsenal showed that a first title since the French manager’s triumph in 2003-04 is now a real possibility.
Any suggestion that Newcastle United might be feeling giddy during the break was put to bed as they resumed their campaign in sensational fashion to climb to second place.
Boxing Day opponents Leicester City had shown great form ahead of the World Cup but were blown away on their home turf as Chris Wood, Miguel Almiron and Joelinton all scored in the opening 33 minutes for the visitors.
Newcastle have won six league games in a row, scoring 15 goals and conceding just two in that streak, and with signings expected in January, Eddie Howe’s assertion that anything is possible seems realistic.
Tottenham’s inability to show consistency even for 90 minutes was again evident in a 2-2 draw at Brentford.
Antonio Conte’s five-man World Cup side were more muscular and thoughtful in the opening 55 minutes at Brentford as they led 2-0. But, as so often this season, they have shown that when in a self-inflicted hole they can actually look like a good team.
Goals from Harry Kane and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg earned them a point and the way they dominated the final half-hour baffled pundits at Tottenham’s fickle nature.
They’ve taken 14 points from losing positions this season and while that’s impressive, it’s not sustainable and their place in the top four looks increasingly shaky.
With the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo no longer hanging over the club like a cloud, Manchester United are playing with newfound freedom as Tuesday’s victory over Nottingham Forest showed that left them one point clear of the top four.
Marcus Rashford scored one and assisted another as the striker continues to thrive while Casemiro oozed class in his deep midfield role and Christian Eriksen pulled the strings.
After a rocky start at Old Trafford, manager Erik Ten Hag got his side on the same page and United and Liverpool head into January looking dangerous.
Liverpool were too good for Aston Villa and although their title hopes are long overdue, watching them and United fight for a top-four spot will be compelling in 2023.
Christmas offered little joy to clubs facing a relegation struggle. West Ham United look like a shadow of the side that were so impressive last season and a fourth straight defeat has put more pressure on manager David Moyes.
Like West Ham, Everton are just above the drop zone, but a home loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers was ominous and manager Frank Lampard will need positive results quickly to silence his critics.
Wolves have reason to be optimistic as Julen Lopetegui’s reign began with a win to take them to 18th place, but the same cannot be said for Southampton under their new manager Nathan Jones following the loss to Brighton & Hove Albion left them at rock bottom.


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