Premier League storylines to watch out for in second half of 2022/23 season
Has everyone got over their post-World Cup hangover yet? No? Better hurry up, there’s a fresh Christmas one with your name on it coming over the horizon.
The Premier League season reconvenes on Monday after what feels like an eternity since it paused, so it’s fair to need a bit of a refresher on the current outlook and state of play.
Here are 10 storylines to keep your eye out for ahead of the season restarting.
Watch 90min Talks on YouTube as Ashleigh Wilmot hosts Rachel and Sophie from Girls on the Ball, Aston Villa winger Kirsty Hanson and Chris Deeley to discuss the Women’s Champions League and recent spate of ACL injuries. Subscribe to the channel here!
The only place to start is at the top of the table, which is exactly where you will find Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal residing this Christmas.
The Gunners are deservedly Premier League leaders at this stage, but with Gabriel Jesus set to miss the next few months through injury, we’re about to see whether the likes of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli can make the step up from ‘Arsenal stars’ to ‘Arsenal superstars’. To outpace a relentless Manchester City machine from here on in would be one hell of an achievement.
Speaking of Manchester City machines, Erling Haaland is about to enter our lives again after a month off. He’s already scored 23 goals this season, 18 of which have come in the Premier League.
Obviously Haaland’s main aim will be to win his first major title, but there’s now a strong chance that he is the only player realistically capable of challenging Lionel Messi for the Ballon d’Or.
If the Norwegian breaks the Premier League scoring record (he only need 14 in the next 24 to tie Mohamed Salah’s record) and City win the Champions League for the first time, then there would definitely be a debate at least.
It’s all well and good sitting in third place with less than half a season played, Newcastle. Many sides have been in your position and blown it – Wolves last year, West Ham before, Southampton for about six straight seasons in the 2010s.
The Magpies aren’t in this position undeservedly at least, while they retain the financial muscle required to compete with the ‘big six’. It’s not an impossible dream to reach the Champions League so soon into this project.
Tottenham’s season so far has been pretty par-for-the-course. Sitting in the top four and a place in the last 16 of the Champions League secure? Sounds pretty stable.
But it could be all about to unravel, particularly if they begin trending downwards. Antonio Conte’s future is undecided. Harry Kane has 18 months left on his contract (and a barrage of abuse from angry England fans awaiting). Spurs need to come flying out of the traps and provide themselves with reasons to be looking up if they’re to keep this key cohort together in the long run.
There’s always got to be a Cristiano Ronaldo angle, hasn’t there?
He may now be without a club, but Ronaldo’s legacy could still find itself worsening this season. Manchester United actually looked pretty competent under Erik ten Hag with the Portugal forward out of the side. If that momentum continues, CR7’s stock could somehow dip even further.
Well, Liverpool, your season could still go one of two ways.
This could just be a re-run of your 2020/21 campaign in which you overcame a horrendous start to scrape a top-four finish, or you could decline even further with Luis Diaz still sidelined and fall back on a ‘when Darwin Nunez adapts next year we’ll be back’ excuse. Ball’s in your court, Jurgen Klopp.
Personally, I don’t think enough was made of Graham Potter jumping from Brighton to Chelsea, going on a long winning run, but still going into the World Cup interval behind his former club in the table.
They’re also only two points ahead of west London neighbours Fulham and Brentford in the table. You’d imagine quality will eventually tell and Chelsea will pull away, so enjoy the nonsense while it lasts.
Unai Emery has returned to England with a point to prove, and he has a talented (if flawed) Aston Villa team to work with.
They’ve already claimed a scalp against Manchester United, too. A European push is probably beyond them this season but they could lay down foundations similar to those of Newcastle last year if they’re all singing from the same hymn sheet.
David Moyes has already had to field questions about whether West Ham are in a relegation battle. Which means they are definitely in a relegation battle.
Over at his former club Everton, Frank Lampard has failed to kick the Toffees on after their near-miraculous escape antics down the stretch of last season.
The point here is three teams have to be relegated. West Ham have a bit more quality and scope to improve so you’d think they’ll be fine, but Everton…reload the Spirit of the Blues tapes, lads.
Just wanted to make sure that everyone is wise to the fact that Wolverhampton Wanderers – home of Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho, Raul Jimenez and now Julen Lopetegui – are bottom of the Premier League.
What’s that all about? Why do they only have 10 points?? When did they slip below even Nottingham Forest???
Jonas Eidevall hails dominant Stina Blackstenius performance in north London derby victory
Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall has heaped praise on forward Stina Blackstenius after her sensational showing in Saturday’s 5-1 victory over Tottenham.
The Swede opened the scoring after just a few minutes and continued to lead the line with real dominance all game, creating plenty of chances for those around her in what turned out to be a comfortable victory.
Blackstenius’ performance did not go unnoticed by Eidevall, who took the time to praise the forward after the game.
“Every game poses different challenges, but Stina gave exactly what we needed at the start of the game by posing a threat from balls in-behind against a very compact Spurs’ team,” Eidevall told Sky Sports.
“I think it was very nice to see her take the first finish on her first touch when she first spots the goalkeeper a little bit out of position.”
On the wider performance, Eidevall continued: “I was very pleased with the performance. There are still some aspects of our game we need to get better at compared to the first half. I think our players were brilliant and were very well positioned in the second half. I think we could have controlled the game right from the start.
“I think it starts with the way we attack. We were well positioned. I think we constantly overloaded them out in the wide areas and set up players that can play forward with the ball. We are good at arriving into the box with pace. In the first half and the last ten minutes, we got a little bit complacent and a bit of standing still which suits Spurs’ really well. We didn’t get into that trap in the second-half and that was pleasing.”
The win keeps Arsenal in the WSL title race, moving the Gunners up to 35 points, two behind leaders Chelsea having played a game more.
Emma Hayes’ Blues are in action on Sunday against fellow title hopefuls Manchester City, who can blow the title race wide open with a win.
Why do Liverpool fans boo the England national anthem?
Few managers of the modern era have developed a bond with their club’s fanbase as strong as the link between Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool.
A rapidly stacked trophy cabinet has obviously helped Klopp win over Merseyside but the humble and honest German coach has forged such a deep connection with the people of Liverpool by taking time to understand the history and beliefs of the city.
However, even Klopp was left a little perplexed by the deafening swell of boos which his supporters delivered in response to the English national anthem ahead of the 2022 FA Cup final.
“I know our people that well that they wouldn’t do it if there was no reason for it,” Klopp reasoned, before admitting: “And I’m not here surely not long enough to understand the reason for it.”
Don’t worry, Jurgen, we’ve got you covered.
As a port city which has welcomed countless immigrants over the years, many Liverpudlians have an ancestral reason to not consider themselves English. The xenophobia and racism which remains a plague on these shores are not exactly a set of welcoming, open arms.
The term ‘Scouse’, which is a traditional stew, was originally used as a derogatory term for Irish immigrants that could only afford to frequent soup kitchens. But the city’s inhabitants have harnessed the slur and the sense of otherness it was meant to hold.
Engraved in in the wall of the Museum of Liverpool is a quote from the former Gronby councillor Margaret Simey in 1999 which reads: “The magic of Liverpool is that it isn’t England.”
Liverpool’s port points west, which was particularly unhelpful during the 1980s when trade with Europe on the other side of the Isles was being prioritised. Naturally, this only stoked the flames of a dire relationship between Liverpool and the British government.
“Never Trust A Tory” is another common banner which can been seen circulating the Liverpool end on trips to Wembley.
This distrust has only festered over the last decade of Conservative rule. Labour – the more left-wing opposition in England to the Conservatives – have not had a prime minister in power since Gordon Brown in 2010.
Unlike the rest of the country, Liverpool have not given in to the blue invasion. The Labour Party has received more than 50% of the city’s votes in every general election between 1992 and 2019.
This unwavering favouring of Labour came immediately after Margaret Thatcher’s unpopular reign as Conservative party leader and prime minister. Thatcher’s Chancellor Sir Geoffrey Howe argued that Liverpool should be left to “managed decline”, as revealed by cabinet papers from the era which fed the distrust of that regime on Merseyside. In the wake of the Toxteth Riots, Howe urged Thatcher “not to over-commit scarce resources to Liverpool”.
The Conservatives and Thatcher were also in power at the time of the Hillsborough disaster and their handling of the situation, over a course of a decades-long quest for justice, also enraged a wounded city and its people.
The Tory hatred wasn’t always so suffocating. When the Iron Lady became prime minister in 1979, Sir Malcolm Thornton was first elected as Conservative MP for Liverpool Garston.
However, the distrust very much extends to the modern era as Boris Johnson, when prime minister, was asked to apologise for publishing an article in the Spectator which accused Liverpudlians of “wallowing” in their “victim status” while he was the publication’s editor in 2004. Shockingly, he did not offer a sorry amid his blustering response.
At Liverpool’s first FA Cup final triumph in 1965, the travelling Merseyside support belted out “God Save Our Gracious Team”. For many reasons, Liverpool fans have opted for a blunter approach over the subsequent years.
Reece James withdraws from England squad due to ‘ongoing issue’
Reece James has left the England camp and returned to Chelsea due to an ‘ongoing issue’.
The right-back was expected to start Sunday’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine at Wembley after Kyle Walker played all 90 minutes of Thursday’s 2-1 win away at Italy. But James has failed to prove his fitness and will reconvene with Chelsea at their Cobham training base.
A statement from England read: “Reece James has withdrawn from the England squad and will not feature against Ukraine on Sunday.
“The full-back has returned to Chelsea for assessment on an ongoing issue.
“No replacements are planned as Gareth Southgate’s squad, including the suspended Luke Shaw, continue their preparations at Tottenham Hotspur Training Ground.”
Though James’ fitness record is patchy and he was suffering with a hamstring injury earlier this month, he joined up with the England squad this week having played 90 minutes in two of Chelsea’s final three games before the international break and was expected to be fit and healthy.
He came on as an 85th-minute substitute on Thursday for Bukayo Saka as 10-man England sought to hold onto their lead.
James missed England’s 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign after sustaining a knee injury in the autumn.
Chelsea will be hoping that James’ problem isn’t serious ahead of a busy month that sees them face the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Real Madrid.
James has already missed 17 games for Chelsea this season – 15 for his knee problem, one for a hamstring issue and one because of illness.
Prior to this season, James has been reported as to having nine other injuries during his time in the Chelsea senior setup, missing a total of 51 matches for the Blues.
On this edition of Son of Chelsea, part of the 90min podcast network, Daniel Childs reviews Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Everton & Graham Potter’s performance. If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!
Folarin Balogun makes admission over Arsenal future
Man Utd forward admits frustration over lack of minutes
Argentina name training complex after Lionel Messi
Best site to watch football live (Free and premium)
Best app to buy sports tickets 2022
10 Footballers who went to university during their careers
Sportvectru on it7 days ago
NBA 2k23 NBA League Pass – How to fix problems
Champions League1 week ago
Official: Burna Boy set to perform live at Champions League final
Football1 week ago
Victor Osimhen reveals his striker idol
Football1 week ago
Dele Alli ‘banished’ from Besiktas squad until end of season
AFCON1 week ago
CONFIRMED: Super Eagles 23-man squad for 2023 AFCON qualifier