Spurs to take on Brentford as Premier League returns Monday

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Spurs to take on Brentford as Premier League returns Monday

Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min during the warm up before a friendly against Nice at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Dec. 21.  [REUTERS/YONHAP]

Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min during the warm up before a friendly against Nice at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Dec. 21. [REUTERS/YONHAP]

Tottenham Hotspur will take on Brentford in their first competitive game in over a month on Monday as Premier League fans wait with bated breath to see just how much of an impact the unprecedented World Cup break in the middle of the 2022-23 season has had.
For Spurs fans the wait is very nearly over — the Brentford London derby will be the first Premier League game on Monday, kicking off at Gtech Community Stadium in London at 12:30 p.m, or at 9:30 p.m. in Korea.
The Brentford clash ought to be a fairly easy way for Tottenham to ease back into the Premier League schedule. Spurs haven’t lost a game to the west London club since 1948, winning one of their two games last season and drawing the other one.
Brentford have been racking up the draws so far this season, winning four games, drawing seven and losing four. Spurs, on the other hand, have nine wins two draws and four losses to their name, with three of those losses coming in the club’s past five games.
But unlike Brentford, Spurs had a large number of players competing for their country at the World Cup and now have to contend with a range of injuries and tiredness as they transition back to the regular season.
Brazilian striker Richarlison is the biggest casualty, expected to be out for three to four weeks after sustaining an injury during the World Cup, Spurs manager Antonio Conte said on Friday.
French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, Tottenham’s long-time captain, will sit out the Brentford game after playing in the World Cup final just over a week ago, with Argentinian defender Cristian Romero out for the same reason.
Back-up goalie Fraser Forster will start for Spurs instead, with Croatia’s Ivan Perisic the sole World Cup semifinalist fit to play against Brentford if needed.
Even among those players who dropped out of the competition earlier there are concerns. Korean national team captain Son Heung-min is expected to play against Brentford, but will likely do so wearing the carbon-fiber mask he has been playing in since sustaining an orbital fracture at the start of November.
Harry Kane is also expected to be available, although whether his tournament-ending penalty mistake has had a serious psychological toll on his game remains to be seen. Kane is also treading on thin ice in the Premier League at the moment, with four yellow cards so far this season putting him just one booking away from a match suspension.
Spurs are not the only team that face injury concerns returning from the World Cup break.
Premier League leaders Arsenal, who have won 12 of 14 games so far this season, find themselves suddenly in a worryingly precarious position with a serious knee injury to Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus.
Jesus is expected to be out until February, a potentially devastating blow for the Gunners considering the ever-present threat of Manchester City sitting five points behind in second place.
Despite their world-class squad, City walked away from the World Cup largely unscathed. Julian Alvarez of Argentina was the only City player to make it past the quarterfinals, leaving the squad fairly well rested.
On top of that, Premier League top scorer Erling Haaland, who has 18 goals in just 13 games, didn’t even go to the World Cup, instead enjoying five weeks off to rest and train.
Elsewhere on the table, Newcastle sit in third with 30 points, two behind City and one ahead of Tottenham. Manchester United are fifth with 26 points, while Liverpool trail in sixth with 22 points. Brighton are seventh on 21 points, knocking Chelsea down to eighth on goal difference.
Alongside Tottenham and Brentford, the other Boxing Day fixtures will see Southampton take on Brighton, Leicester play Newcastle, Crystal Palace face Fulham, Everton take on Wolves, Aston Villa play Liverpool and Arsenal face West Ham.

BY JIM BULLEY [jim.bulley@joongang.co.kr]
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