Blessing or blight? How each Premier League club will feel about the World Cup Finals break

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The Premier League will not return to action until Boxing Day.

Sunday brought a dramatically fitting end to the first part of the most unique Premier League season in the 30-year history of the competition.

Aston Villa fought back from a goal down as a Danny Ings brace continued their solid start to life under new manager Unai Emery and moved them to within touching distance of the top half of the table. But it was Manchester United’s Alejandro Garnacho who really stole the show as he struck his first Premier League goal to give his side a late win at Fulham after former Red Devils winger Daniel James looked to have secured a point for the hosts.

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With the thoughts of the nation now turning towards the World Cup Finals in Qatar, how will the Premier League’s twenty clubs view the seven-week break imposed upon them by the controversial competition? 3AddedMinutes assesses how they may feel...

Perfect timing!

It would be stating the obvious to suggest a chance to pause and reassess will be welcome for Graham Potter and Chelsea. Saturday’s defeat at Newcastle means the Blues are without a win in their last five Premier League games and they now sit eight points adrift of the top four with over a third of the season completed. Although Potter will have to contend with having a whole host of players away at the World Cup, it does give the former Brighton and Hove Albion manager a chance to formulate a plan to improve after the festive period.

Graham Potter, manager of Chelsea looks on prior to the Premier League match at Newcastle United’s St. James Park (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)Graham Potter, manager of Chelsea looks on prior to the Premier League match at Newcastle United’s St. James Park (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)
Graham Potter, manager of Chelsea looks on prior to the Premier League match at Newcastle United’s St. James Park (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers will certainly appreciate the break as it allows newly-appointed managers Nathan Jones and Julen Lopetegui to settle into their respective roles at each club and try to lay the foundations for an upturn in form. Everton and West Ham United will also look to improve after going without a win in their last three games prior to the break.

Off-field matters will dominate the headlines at Manchester United after Cristiano Ronaldo’s remarkable recent interview in which he revealed his anger at the lack of progress at Old Trafford and questioned a number of key figures at the club. The 13-time Premier League champions have released a statement on the interview and the break will allow them to deal with the matter without it having an impact on league fixtures.

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Despite still sitting in a Champions League place after dramatic comeback wins against Bournemouth and Leeds United, Tottenham Hotspur have suffered defeats in three of their last five games and there has been some minor criticism of manager Antonio Conte. Allowing his players that aren’t at the World Cup to have a breather from his intense methods could benefit Spurs during the second half of the season.

Wait and see!

There are several clubs that have neither shown a sense of promise, nor been in poor form ahead of the World Cup break and it’s difficult to assess how they will view a pause on their season. Roberto di Zerbi will at least get an opportunity to settle into life at Brighton and Hove Albion and impose his methods on the Seagulls squad and Fulham will have time to recover from their late loss against Manchester United.

Leeds United and Bournemouth have also claimed impressive wins in recent weeks but may well welcome the break from league action as they look to steer clear of the bottom three. The latter were in fine form on Saturday as Marcus Tavernier, Kieffer Moore and Jaidon Anthony all netted in a 3-0 win against Everton. The former may do well to swot up on the art of defending.

No! Not now!

The most obvious clubs that will bemoan the break will be current leaders Arsenal and surprise Champions League qualification contenders Newcastle United.

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 Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal embraces Gabriel Martinelli following their side's victory in the Premier League match (Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images) Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal embraces Gabriel Martinelli following their side's victory in the Premier League match (Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images)
Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal embraces Gabriel Martinelli following their side's victory in the Premier League match (Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images)

The Gunners have been in stunning form to top the table as thoughts turn towards Qatar, after losing just one of their opening 14 games in a run of form that has left them sat five points clear of second placed Manchester City. Mikel Arteta’s men have built up serious momentum as they look to secure a first Premier League title since 2004 and you get the sense the break from league action will be the last thing the Spaniard wanted for his side.

The same can be said of third placed Newcastle, who are now looking like serious contenders for a top four spot. It is easy to forget the Magpies were sat firmly in the relegation battle this time last year and still hadn’t won a Premier League game by the time the first windows on our advent calendars were being prised opened. Fast forward 12 months and Eddie Howe’s side have lost just one game and sit above the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool. They will now hope to break does not stunt the clear momentum built up over the last two months when they’ve taken 24 points from ten games, a record only bettered by Arsenal.

Newcastle United's English midfielder Joe Willock celebrates scoring his team's first goal with teammates during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Chelsea at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on November 12, 2022. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)Newcastle United's English midfielder Joe Willock celebrates scoring his team's first goal with teammates during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Chelsea at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on November 12, 2022. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Newcastle United's English midfielder Joe Willock celebrates scoring his team's first goal with teammates during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Chelsea at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on November 12, 2022. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Despite their weekend defeat at home to Brentford, Manchester City will feel they will have had sufficient drive to bounce back at the first attempt, and the pause for the World Cup will mean they will now face a long period reflecting on that surprise defeat. Brentford have lost just one of their last seven games and would have hoped to build on their fine win at the Etihad - although they may now benefit from a well-rested Ivan Toney! Despite an inconsistent start to the season that has left them 15 points adrift of leaders Arsenal, Liverpool’s wins against Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton has hinted at an improvement.

Looking elsewhere in the table, it’s clear to see Leicester City are slowly moving on from their early-season troubles and now look to have their eyes on a top-half finish, rather than nervously looking over their shoulders. Although only four points clear of the drop zone, the Foxes have won three of their last four games and will hope they can continue that upturn in form when the Premier League returns on Boxing Day. Aston Villa will feel the same way for pretty much the same reasons after taking maximum points in three of their last four games to move within a point of a top ten place. Crystal Palace also looked to be improving after falling to just one defeat in their last six games prior to Saturday’s loss at Nottingham Forest.

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Steve Cooper, Manager of Nottingham Forest celebrates with Jesse Lingard following the Premier League match (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)Steve Cooper, Manager of Nottingham Forest celebrates with Jesse Lingard following the Premier League match (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Steve Cooper, Manager of Nottingham Forest celebrates with Jesse Lingard following the Premier League match (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

The top half of the table may be a stretch for Nottingham Forest, but Steve Cooper’s men are showing signs of life in the Premier League after a difficult start to the campaign. Saturday’s win against Palace may not have been enough to take them out of relegation zone, but it has moved them to within a point of escaping the bottom three and meant a defeat to leaders Arsenal is their only loss in their last five games.

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