The international break is finally over and that can only mean one thing: The Premier League is back this weekend.
And with its return comes the usual array of compelling sub-plots, unanswered questions and the resumption of the tightest of title races.
Will Chelsea and Tottenham produce a classic this weekend? Can Claudio Ranieri make a winning start at Fulham and can anyone stop Manchester City?
Below are the 10 reasons why we can’t wait for the Premier League to return.
Chelsea need Hazard firing at Wembley
Described by Alex Iwobi as the LeBron James of football, Eden Hazard needs to get back to playing ball at full speed this weekend. He has not looked fully fit for a few weeks after a back injury, and recently admitted to feeling fatigued, so Maurizio Sarri will surely be cock-a-hoop at Roberto Martinez’s treatment of his star man over the last week.
Return of Ranieri
Slavisa Jokanovic’s demise will not have come as a surprise to anyone who watched Fulham’s insipid first half at Huddersfield the other week, but it might have done to those at Liverpool a few days later.
Nobody knows whether Jokanovic would have turned their fortunes around but there were signs that progress could have been around the corner at Anfield. Regardless, Claudio Ranieri is back in the Premier League after 18 months away.
Old Trafford: bastion or bunker?
A nice gentle loosener for Manchester United this weekend: Crystal Palace at home. Or perhaps not. Their run of form at Old Trafford has been distinctly average, with only three wins from eight in all competitions – including being dumped out of the Carabao Cup by Frank Lampard’s Derby on penalties.
Watching Manchester City recently, it just does not feel like fair play. They just look too good. The loophole enthusiasts have the others tied in knots while attempting to catch up – even if the gap at the top is still only two points.
The race for the title reignites
Guardiola wore a thin grin when, a few weeks into the season, it was put to him that Liverpool were already becoming giddy at the prospect of a first league title since 1990. His answer was restrained and he refused to rise to the wiggling bait being dangled in the front row of City’s auditorium. Guardiola smirked, but whether he is in May very much depends on the one with a crooked smile over the coming weeks.
Resurgent Arsenal? Lets find out…
‘This is a club that hasn’t won the Premier League for a long time and hasn’t won the Champions League,’ said managing director Vinai Venkatesham, dishing out some home truths this week.
‘And I do know the only way we’re going to be able to answer the questions is by having the Premier League or Champions League trophy here.’
SATURDAY 24 NOVEMBER
Brighton vs Leicester (3pm)
Everton vs Cardiff (3pm)
Fulham vs Southampton (3pm)
Man United vs Crystal Palace (3pm)
Watford vs Liverpool (3pm)
West Ham vs Man City (3pm)
Tottenham vs Chelsea (5.30pm)
SUNDAY 25 NOVEMBER
Bournemouth vs Arsenal (1.30pm)
Wolves vs Huddersfield (4pm)
MONDAY 26 NOVEMBER
Burnley vs Newcastle (8pm)