It has been an exciting and enjoyable 2022/23 Premier League season so far. It is obvious to say that Arsenal are having a great season as they sit pretty at the top, while the same cannot be said of Wolves, who are the basement club at the moment.
With the Premier League, just like major leagues across the globe, on pause due to the World Cup in Qatar which took centre-stage from November 20, here are the ten takeaways from the season to date.
#Arsenal deserve to be at the summit of the league
Arsenal have truly been the best team in the country since the opening weekend of the 2022/23 Premier League season.
The north London giants have entered the break for the World Cup sitting five points clear at the summit of the division having won 12 of their first 14 games. There have been only two occasions Mikel Arteta’s side have dropped points; i.e. in the 3-1 defeat to Man United at Old Trafford and the 1-1 draw with Southampton at St. Mary’s.
It is the best start to a league season in the club’s history and the fans can be forgiven for dreaming of a future where they can see Arsenal’s 18-year wait for a Premier League title end this season.
#Newcastle United have made giant strides under Eddie Howe
It is astonishing to find Newcastle United third in the table and firmly in the mix for a Champions League berth, only a year after they were embroiled in a relegation dogfight.
Eddie Howe has well and truly transformed the club’s fortunes with help from the new owners, a fantastic recruitment policy and vociferous fan support. Before the World Cup break, Howe’s team picked up their eighth win of the campaign when they beat Chelsea 1-0.
With only one loss from the 15 games played and the confidence surging through the players’ veins after staying unbeaten since the defeat to Liverpool in September, Newcastle have come a long way under Howe.
#Graham Potter already under pressure
The World Cup break has come at the right time for Graham Potter, who has many pressing issues to mull over over the next month following Chelsea’s poor form.
A list of managerial suitors to take over at Chelsea has emerged after a dry period in which the team has picked up 11 points from a possible 24. They haven’t won in five Premier League games, leaving Potter under pressure already given how quickly they sacked the previous manager who had guided them to Champions League glory a year earlier.
Potter must stay true to his principles and fight the situation which will likely get worse before it gets better.
#Erik ten Hag’s Man United moving in the right direction
Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United are showing clear signs of progress after 14 matches into the season.
For any foreign manager coming into the Premier League, it takes time to settle, likewise, Erik ten Hag is now finding his feet at Man United. The Dutchman inherited a team which had finished sixth in the Premier League last season, 35 points behind champions Man City.
But after a disastrous start, which saw his team lose the opening two games, Ten Hag has managed to instil a collective team spirit in the squad, execute the game plan and the principles that he wants the players to imbibe at the club. And that too in a relatively short span time of time amidst injury problems, poor form of some key players and distractions caused mostly by a certain Portuguese superstar.
The progress made by Man United under Ten Hag is tangible, to say the least.
#Antonio Conte’s failure against ‘Big Teams’
Tottenham Hotspur must consider the first phase of the season a success given they sit fourth in the table, but watching Antonio Conte’s team has often been a dull exercise.
A repetitive pattern of slow and unimaginative starts, conceding goals early and then having to chase games are something Conte must address over the World Cup break. In addition, Spurs’ failure to beat any of the traditional ‘Big Six’ clubs so far plus Newcastle United, is something that should worry Conte.
#Erling Haaland on a different level
Erling Haaland has taken the Premier League by storm, scoring 23 goals and providing three assists in 18 appearances for Manchester City this season—18 of those goals coming in 13 Premier League games which includes three hat-tricks.
The impact Haaland has had since arriving at Man City from Dortmund in the summer is staggering, and there’s arguably anybody who has ever dominated the Premier League like him immediately after coming from abroad.
One of Pep Guardiola’s biggest objectives during the World Cup break will be to make sure the Norwegian goal-machine is fit and firing when the Premier League season resumes, because Haaland will be absolutely crucial to Man City’s attempt to overhaul Arsenal at the top of the table.
#Fulham punching above their weight
Not many would have expected newly-promoted Fulham to be in the top 10 going into the Christmas break, but they have certainly managed to silence many doubters.
Fulham have been the surprise package, enjoying a solid season off the back of excellent transfer activity and hard work put in by manager Marco Silva. The Portuguese tactician’s impact on the squad has been telling, with several players improving under him.
If the Cottagers can keep Aleksandr Mitrovic fit and firing, add a couple of players to their squad in January and follow Silva’s principles meticulously, they could well finish in the top half of the table in what will then represent a remarkable achievement.
#Aston Villa and Unai Emery—seems a very good fit
It is unjust to judge Unai Emery on a small sample size but there have been signs already that the manager might be just what Aston Villa, who have certainly punched below their weight, needed.
Emery couldn’t have asked for a better start to his second stint in English football, winning his opening two Premier League games against Man United and Brighton. New-manager bounces can often be deceptive, but Emery looks a good fit for Aston Villa and vice-versa.
In Emery, Villa have a manager with an excellent CV, a proven managerial pedigree who has the potential to finally take the club to the levels the fans and the pundits and the owners believe they should be.
#Frank Lampard has reached endgame at Everton
Pressure has ramped up on Frank Lampard after a week in which his Everton side lost to Bournemouth twice—once in the EFL Cup and once in the Premier League.
Lampard joined Everton last year and managed to avoid relegation with the club, and this season was expected to be the one where he finally settles and unleashes his footballing philosophy with a moderate amount of pressure on him.
But things have been topsy-turvy for the Toffees and a period which saw six defeats in eight games has led to the club entering the international break on a significantly low note.
Whether Lampard survives the break remains to be seen, but the moans and groans of fans becoming louder and stronger in stadiums after every passing week suggest they have had enough of the English tactician at Everton.
#David Moyes must change things at West Ham
West Ham United seem to have lost their way and hit the six-week break having tasted defeats in their last three Premier League games – two of them at home—to drop down to 16th in the table.
After a couple of really quite remarkable seasons, things seem to be going awry for David Moyes at West Ham—with his side lacking energy, ideas prosaic, and their mentality imitating a surrender. Generally, things are not looking pretty under Moyes, the mood around the London Stadium has soured and the players’ lack of desire to compete is quite telling.
If Moyes is to get West Ham back on track, he must change things radically after the break or be prepared to be face the axe himself.