Super Eagles stars that were conspicuously missing at the recently concluded 2022 FIFA World Cup held in Qatar are all set to return to action in the Premier League.
Premier League football is returning after a six-week hiatus and, as expected, the fixtures will be coming thick and fast over the course of the next week.
Before the English top flight was paused in mid-November like its counterparts around the globe to allow the first-ever winter World Cup to take place, the season had been a mixed bag for Nigerian players.
However, unlike the good old days when Nigerian players fought for titles with their teams, they are mostly dogged in relegation battles this term with only a sprinkle seeking possible tickets for European football action next term.
Battle for survival
Leading the line for survival in the EPL is Alex Iwobi whose Everton team are just one point above the drop zone.
Though Iwobi has enjoyed a phenomenal season with the Toffees, the recent results for Frank Lampard’s team have been disappointing and that explains the precarious state they find themselves in the table.
Everton are in 17th place on 14 points after 15 matches. Iwobi and his teammates lost their last Premier League match 3-0 at Vitality Stadium against Bournemouth, extending their winless streak to three.
With the other relegation-threatened teams breathing down their neck, Everton will need to step up as fast as possible to improve their position on the log.
Life is not any better for Joe Aribo and his Southampton teammates, who are occupying the second spot from the bottom.
This is Aribo’s first season in England and has proved more challenging compared to his time in the Scottish Premier League where he was either sure of the title or at least a top-three finish.
In 15 matches so far for the Saints in the EPL, Aribo has scored twice and would need to do more, starting from the Boxing Day tie against Brighton to help the Saints from beating the drop.
Boxing Day fixtures
The race for Champions League football will also take centre stage on Boxing Day, with Tottenham, Newcastle, Liverpool and Chelsea – third, fourth, sixth and eighth-placed – all in action.
The quartet will face Brentford, Leicester City, Aston Villa and Bournemouth, respectively.
Frank Onyeka is with Brentford while the duo Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho are with the Foxes.
League leaders Arsenal will welcome West Ham to the Emirates and will look to maintain their five-point advantage over defending champions Manchester City.
City could find themselves eight points behind the Gunners by the time they play Leeds at Elland Road on Wednesday evening.
While the first part of the league season was quite entertaining and equally dramatic, this concluding part should offer even more with several twists and turns anticipated.
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