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EPL: What to expect as second half of Premier League kicks off on Boxing Day

 


The Premier League is back on Boxing Day.

That in itself is a strange thing to do. But then, this is the first time ever we watched a World Cup in winter months.

Credit to Qatar. They hosted one of the best World Cups in history.

But our bias is clearly for domestic football and its irrepressible drama.

We kick off with a London Derby, when Brentford host Tottenham Hotspur.

Derbies are usually a melting pot of blood, sweat and energy. So it is important the players shake off any leftovers from the World Cup.

Deji Faremi, co-owner of Busy Buddies and a sports analyst, believes Manchester United more than any other club are in danger of suffering a hangover.

“United is an easy one here.

“Their starting CB partnership played until the final day of the World Cup.

“Varane may be injured, and Martinez may be hungover literally,” Faremi tells DAILY POST.

Kunle Elemo, a media executive with one of the top betting companies, agrees.

“Rashford, Shaw, McGuire and Varane will be understandably bummed at not winning it while Sancho is still upset at not making the squad and his stick drooping (this isn’t meant in an unkind way, mind)

“Martinez won it, yes but several Manchester United players will be upset at missing out on a legit chance to win it all,” Elemo explains.

Arsenal welcome West Ham in Monday’s late kick-off. Mikel Arteta will be without striker Gabriel Jesus, who picked up a knee injury playing in Qatar.

Can the Gunners, who are five points clear at the top, sustain their title challenge without the injured Jesus?

“That will be tough. They’ll need Nketiah to produce maybe two times as much as he’s done so far.

“Jesus brings so much to the Arsenal side beyond just goalscoring; creativity, work rate, and even experience. I think this could be the biggest test for Arsenal.

“I suspect they’ll struggle and could lose some ground,” Faremi says.

Elemo, who is admittedly a Gooner, disagrees.

“I don’t think so. Nketiah is a somewhat different player and Joao Felix can’t replicate that work rate.

“I see Arteta moving Martinelli upfront, especially if he signs Mudryk and/or Smith Rowe makes a return to full fitness. In that situation, we can play a similar way, and at a similar level until Jesus returns,” he says.

Any surprises to expect?

“Newcastle will continue their good form.

“I think many are expecting them to falter, but they will surprise the doubters and will be in it for UCL football until later in the season,” Faremi adds.

So then, Boxing Day. We unwrap the latest installment of Britain’s most watched series!

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