Pele has been hailed for his work on and off the field following his death at the age of 82.

The Brazil great's passing was confirmed by his family on Thursday following a period in hospital, where he was moved to palliative care early in December.

Widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, Pele remains the only player to have won the World Cup three times in a legendary career spanning 21 years.

Pele's death led to widespread tributes on social media, not least on his own official accounts.

A message posted on the former Santos and New York Cosmos forward's Instagram account, thought to be run by close family members, read: "Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pele,

"On his journey, Edson enchanted the world with his genius in sport, stopped a war, carried out social works all over the world and spread what he most believed to be the cure for all our problems: love."

Pele, full name Edson Arantes do Nascimento, finished his playing career with New York Cosmos in 1977 and later lent his name and influence to many charitable initiatives.

His daughter Kely Nascimento had earlier paid her own heartfelt tribute in a message accompanied by a photo of her and other family members holding Pele's hands.

"Everything we are is thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace," she wrote.

Pele's cause of death has been confirmed as multiple organ failure as a result of the progression of his colon cancer.

The Brazil great and three-time World Cup winner died on Thursday at the age of 82, with his daughter confirming his passing on Instagram.

He had been moved to palliative care early in December after his body stopped responding to cancer treatment.

Before Christmas Day, his family travelled to be by his side at the Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital in Sao Paulo.

Following Pele's death, the hospital subsequently released a medical report that read: "The Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein confirms with regret the death of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pelé, today, December 29, 2022, at 3:27 p.m., due to multiple organ failure, a result of the progression of colon cancer associated with his previous clinical condition.

"The Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein sympathises with the family and all who suffer from the loss of our dear King of Football."

Pele is the only man to have won the World Cup three times, having helped the Selecao to World Cup success in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

His first World Cup triumph in 1958 came when he was just 17 years and 249 days old, making him the youngest player to win it. Pele scored in the showpiece game – no one younger has ever netted in a World Cup final.

Pele's 77 goals at international level remain a record for Brazil, though one he shares with Neymar, who equalled the tally at this year's World Cup.

Santos and the Brazil national side both paid brief but fitting tributes on social media following the announcement of the death of Pele at the age of 82.

The Selecao great and three-time World Cup winner had been in hospital for palliative care in early December after his body stopped responding to cancer treatment, and his daughter confirmed his death on Thursday.

News of Pele's passing sent shock waves across the world of football, but nowhere would the impact be felt stronger than at Santos – a club where he spent 18 years, scoring 643 goals in 659 matches.

Pele lifted six league titles with the Brazilian side, including five in a row from 1961-1968, as well as the Copa Libertadores twice.

On the international stage, Pele scored 77 goals for Brazil, a record that still stands today but is likely to eventually be broken by Neymar, who pulled level at the World Cup in Qatar.

In a short but powerful tribute to the man many regard to be the greatest ever, Santos posted a picture of a crown with just a single word 'eterno' – eternal.

The CBF's Twitter account followed suit, sharing an image of Pele alongside the caption of 'eterno' but adding an infinity symbol instead of 2022 as the year of his death.

England great Geoff Hurst labelled Pele as "the greatest of all time" after the Brazil legend's death was confirmed on Thursday.

Pele, a three-time World Cup winner, had been moved to palliative care early in December after his body stopped responding to cancer treatment.

The 82-year-old's daughter announced his passing after his family travelled to be by his side at Sao Paulo's Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital before Christmas Day.

Tributes have flooded in for the footballing icon after he left a lasting legacy on Brazil and Santos, for whom he scored 643 goals in 659 matches over an 18-year period.

England's 1966 World Cup winner Hurst, who was the only man to score a hat-trick in the final of the tournament before Kylian Mbappe at Qatar 2022, believes no player compares to Pele.

"I have so many memories of Pele, without doubt the best footballer I ever played against (with Bobby Moore being the best footballer I ever played alongside)," Hurst wrote on Twitter. 

"For me, Pele remains the greatest of all time and I was proud to be on the pitch with him. RIP Pele and thank you."

Pele dies aged 82

December 29, 2022

Pele, the Brazil great and three-time World Cup winner, has died.

The 82-year-old had been moved to palliative care early in December after his body stopped responding to cancer treatment.

Before Christmas Day, his family travelled to be by his side at the Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital in Sao Paulo.

His death was confirmed by his daughter on Thursday.

"Everything we are is thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace," Kely Nascimento wrote on Instagram.

Pele was regarded by most as one of the greatest players in the history of football, leaving an indelible legacy after a career that lasted 21 years.

He played the majority of his club career at Santos, for whom he scored 643 goals in 659 matches over an 18-year period. He also represented the New York Cosmos between 1975 and 1977.

But it was his impact for Brazil that truly cemented his status as a sporting icon and all-time football great.

He helped the Selecao to World Cup success in 1958, 1962 and 1970, with no player in the tournament's history winning it more than him.

Pele's first World Cup triumph in 1958 came when he was just 17 years and 249 days old, making him the youngest player ever to win it. He also scored in the showpiece game – no one younger has ever netted in a World Cup final.

That was one of 77 goals at international level, a haul that still has not been overhauled by a Brazilian player, with Neymar just two behind.

After his retirement, Pele lent his name and influence to many charitable initiatives and will be remembered as arguably the greatest World Cup player of all time.

There is perhaps no sporting debate that captures the imagination like that concerning the identity of football's greatest ever player.

The incredible goalscoring feats of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo put them at the centre of the discussion, but what about the greats of yesteryear? 

Does the cunning of Diego Maradona or the ingenuity of Johan Cruyff make one of them the best to have played the world's most popular sport?

The ultimate reference for all those iconic players, however, is Pele. The only player to have won three World Cups, the ultimate personification of "o jogo bonito".

With tributes flooding in after the Brazil icon passed away at the age of 82, Stats Perform delves into the Selecao star's incredible career, asking how it compares to those of the game's other greats.

Pele: The World Cup's finest

While any debate over the greatest player of all time will always be subjective, nobody can deny Pele his status as the ultimate World Cup legend.

His introduction to the global stage came at the 1958 tournament in Sweden, where Brazil exercised the demons of 1950 – when they lost the final on home soil to Uruguay in what became known as the "Maracanazo" – to clinch their first title.

A 17-year-old Pele missed Brazil's first two games at the tournament, but the Santos youngster quickly made the Selecao's number 10 shirt his own after coming in for a 2-0 win over the Soviet Union.

From there, he went from strength to strength, scoring his first World Cup goal against Wales before helping himself to a hat-trick against France in the semi-finals.

As Brazil overcame the hosts 5-2 in a thrilling final, Pele – at the age of 17 years and 249 days – scored twice. Only one other teenager has ever netted in a World Cup final – Kylian Mbappe in 2018.

 

As if one outstanding World Cup campaign was not enough, Pele was key to further Selecao triumphs in 1962 and 1970 – assuming a talismanic role in what many consider to be the greatest international team in history at the latter tournament.

Pele's tally of six assists in Mexico remains the highest tally recorded at a single World Cup since records began four years earlier, and his nonchalant lay-off for Carlos Alberto to finish off a flowing team move in Brazil's final win over Italy remains one of the most iconic moments in the tournament's history.

While modern-day detractors may point to Pele's failure to test himself in Europe, his incredible record on the grandest stage of all dictates that he is remembered among the very best, and there can be no doubt as to his unmatched World Cup legacy.

Johan Cruyff: The innovator

If Pele's legacy can be measured in World Cup accomplishments, Cruyff's must be examined in a very different way.

Cruyff's unbelievable tally of 36 chances created at the 1974 World Cup may be a single-tournament record, but it was not enough for the Netherlands to avoid the first of their three final defeats at the competition.

Eight Eredivisie titles, three European Cups and one LaLiga triumph as a player does not exactly do justice to the career of football's great innovator, the man considered responsible for "total football" and by extension, every free-flowing Barcelona or Ajax team that has followed.

If Pele's is best remembered as the World Cup's greatest player, perhaps Cruyff deserves the title of football's finest pioneer.

Diego Maradona: The individualist 

No conversation about football's greatest could be complete without a mention of Maradona, the man who almost single-handedly carried Argentina to football's greatest prize with a perfect blend of skill and cunning.

Astonishingly, Maradona claimed five goals and five assists as Argentina won the 1986 World Cup – a feat no other player has accomplished since detailed data collection began in 1966.

Maradona's quarter-final brace against England, perhaps the most iconic double in history, encapsulated his on-pitch personality perfectly – a mischievous first goal being followed by a truly remarkable second.

Maradona's tendency to carry unfancied sides to success was replicated on the club stage, with his two Serie A triumphs with Napoli earning him a level of adulation that will perhaps never be matched.

A beaten finalist in 1990, not even El Diego could match Pele's World Cup exploits, but the Argentine carved out a reputation as football's finest individualist. 

 

Cristiano Ronaldo: The big-game player

Like Cruyff, neither of the final two players on our list have made their greatest impact at the World Cup, but the incredible goalscoring feats of Ronaldo ensure his place among the game's legends.

In the Champions League – arguably the true pinnacle of the modern game – no player can match Ronaldo's total of 140 goals.

Ronaldo – who scored his 700th goal in club football earlier this season – has also lifted the Champions League trophy on five occasions – a tally no other player has bettered.

The 37-year-old started off the 2022 World Cup by becoming the first male player to net in five different editions of the tournament, though he ultimately ended it in disappointment, making just 10 touches after coming on as a substitute in Portugal's quarter-final defeat to Morocco.

He has been the ultimate big-game player. Whether he is anymore is clearly up for debate. 

Lionel Messi: The Magician 

While some may prefer the efficiency and athleticism of Ronaldo, there is no sight in modern football as joyous as that of Messi slaloming through panicked defences.

Seven Ballon d'Or wins tells you all you need to know, Messi's army of fans may say, while Pep Guardiola's revolutionary Barcelona side – considered by many as the best team to ever take to the field – was built to accommodate the Argentine's incredible mix of elite finishing, dribbling and passing skills. 

 

Until the last two years, the only major blot on Messi's career was a perceived failure to replicate the feats of Maradona, with the expectations of the Argentinian public often seeming to weigh heavily upon the shoulders of the diminutive attacker.

However, having helped the Albiceleste end a 28-year wait to win the Copa America in 2021, Messi then contributed seven goals and three assists to mirror Maradona's achievement of leading Argentina to World Cup glory, with the Paris Saint-Germain forward's campaign in Qatar already regarded as one of the greatest in the tournament's rich history.

While the sight of Messi lifting the World Cup trophy at the Lusail Stadium caused some to declare any debate regarding football's greatest player to be over, the forward's age dictates he will not get the chance to equal Pele's feats on the game's grandest stage.

Everyone has a different opinion on what makes a player the greatest in history, be it their style, their goal record, or their impact on subsequent generations.

The role of football's greatest tournament will always be pivotal, however, and on that basis, Pele will always have a place among the legends of the game.

Pele was football's ultimate fox in the box, a player who dealt in quantity as much as quality, whose eye-popping career statistics alone marked him out as one of the greats.

Footage is scarce of peak Pele, the player who emerged as a teenage sensation in the late 1950s and shone on the world stage for almost 15 years. That which is available shows a nimble forward with a devastating finish.

The Brazil great became as globally revered as The Beatles and Muhammad Ali, who became peers of his, and Pele's death at the age of 82 has sent a shudder through the sporting world.

Those who saw him in action speak of a player who took football to a new level, leaving tormented defences in his wake as he set record after record.

Here, Stats Perform has picked out five games that underlined the greatness of the man born Edson Arantes do Nascimento.

 

1958: World Cup semi-final, Brazil 5-2 France

The World Cup would never be the same after the 17-year-old Pele took the tournament in Sweden by storm.

He hit a hat-trick in the semi-final against France, feeding off scraps for his first two strikes, both of which came from close range, before rattling in a stunning third.

Pele took a pass in his stride on the edge of the penalty area, and as the ball looped up he sent a rasping strike from 18 yards into the bottom-left corner.

He would hit seven hat-tricks for Brazil across his career, but this was the first, carrying the Selecao through to a clash with the hosts.

1958: World Cup final, Brazil 5-2 Sweden

After the semi-final heroics, it turned out that Pele had a pretty good encore to come.

Vava's first-half double put Brazil 2-1 ahead, but the final will be largely remembered for Pele's majestic strike that increased that lead early in the second half, when he flicked the ball over a defender at close quarters in the penalty area before volleying past goalkeeper Kalle Svensson. It was pure artistry, a teenage master at work.

It made Pele the youngest scorer in a World Cup final, at 17 years and 249 days old, and for good measure the teenager put the seal on victory with a late header, completing a double for a tournament haul of six goals.

Just Fontaine's incredible haul of 13 goals for France made him the top scorer, but Pele took the plaudits and Brazil savoured a first World Cup triumph.

1962: Intercontinental Cup final, second leg, Benfica 2-5 Santos

Injury cruelly meant Pele only played a small role in Brazil's successful World Cup defence, but three months down the line, in September and October 1962, he served up a dish of his world-beating best.

A clinical double at home in the first leg gave Santos a 3-2 advantage against Benfica in the Intercontinental Cup, a clash of the reigning Copa Libertadores and European Cup champions.

Pele saved his best for the second leg in Lisbon, grabbing a hat-trick against a Benfica defence who had little answer to his dribbling, pace and power. At the other end of the field, Eusebio could not match Pele.

Benfica goalkeeper Costa Pereira accounted for the 5-2 drubbing at the Estadio da Luz by lauding the prowess of the chief tormentor, saying he had been "undone by someone who was not born on the same planet as the rest of us".

Team-mate Antonio Simoes told Portuguese publication Sol in 2022: "Even today, when people ask me who is the best player I have seen in my entire life, I answer that it is Pele. I've never seen anyone do things like he did. I was dazzled. Benfica was the best team in Europe. But Santos was the best in the world."

1963, Roca Cup, second leg, Brazil 5-2 Argentina

Pele fired another hat-trick as Brazil retained the Roca Cup with a statement victory in Rio.

This was a competition contested sporadically by the great South American rivals, and a 3-2 win for Argentina at the Morumbi stadium in Sao Paulo had given them the edge heading into the second leg at the sprawling Maracana.

Reports said a crowd of around 130,000 attended the game, and Pele came up trumps with a hat-trick, including two penalties after he was felled each time.

Pele had made his Brazil debut against Argentina six years previously in an earlier Roca Cup clash, and now into his early twenties he remained the star man for the two-time world champions.

Brazil's 4-1 lead after 90 minutes meant they were ahead on aggregate, but curiously the game still went to extra time, with both sides having a win apiece, with the overall score only counting after they split the extra period 1-1.

1970: World Cup final, Brazil 4-1 Italy

Injury scuppered Pele's hopes of making an impact at the 1966 World Cup in England, but four years later he was back and eager to help Brazil reclaim the Jules Rimet Trophy.

The crowning moment of his career and this golden age of Brazilian football would come at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, with Pele to the forefront in a thumping win over the Azzurri.

Brazil won every game they played at this World Cup, including a group-stage victory over defending champions England, while Italy knocked out West Germany in the semi-finals.

Come the title match, Pele headed the opener for Brazil, climbing astonishingly high at the far post, and he later nodded the ball down for Jairzinho to plunder their third.

Brazil's piece de resistance in the final was Carlos Alberto's majestic strike that put the seal on the win, with an exceptional team move climaxing with Pele almost casually laying the ball into the path of the captain who thundered a shot past Enrico Albertosi.

Pele would never play another World Cup game, and he could hardly have gone out on a greater high.

Brazil legend and three-time World Cup winner Pele has died at the age of 82, leaving behind one of the greatest sporting legacies.

Pele passed away in Sao Paulo on Thursday, leaving the football world in mourning for the loss of one of its all-time legends.

Across a playing career that spanned over two decades, Pele scored for fun and won countless honours.

Here, Stats Perform has picked through some of the iconic moments that helped shape his mystique and reputation in the game.

 

The Selecao double (1958 World Cup Final)

Already a talent back home, Pele was yet to even complete his first year with Brazil when he caught the imagination half the world away in Sweden, with a string of superb performances at his first World Cup.

He capped it by becoming the then-youngest player to feature in a World Cup final, at 17 years and 249 days, and scored a brace to help his side to victory – including an audacious first that saw him volley a great finish.

 

The Copa brace (Santos 3-0 Penarol, 1962 Copa Libertadores Finals)

For back-to-back years, Uruguayan heavyweights Penarol had been the undisputed kings of South American club football, but over a two-legged final, Santos had been able to hold them at bay.

That forced a third leg, a playoff to decide who would be crowned Copa Libertadores champions – Pele scored a rapid-fire brace after the restart to put the result beyond doubt.

The halfway-line shot (Brazil 4-1 Czechoslovakia, 1970 World Cup)

A dozen years on from Sweden, and having missed his side's victorious final in 1962 through injury, Pele headed to Mexico for what many assumed to be a chance at correcting unfinished business.

In their first game of the tournament, Brazil ran out convincing winners against Czechoslovakia – but it was the forward's non-goal, an audacious lob from the halfway line that was just pulled wide, that many remember as an enterprising play.

The wonder save (England 0-1 Brazil, 1970 World Cup)

If another moment from the tournament lives fast in the memory though, it's another miss from Pele – but on this occasion, the attacker can't be blamed for not finishing this effort.

He looked to have done everything right, planting a superb downward header off a cross from out wide, only for England goalkeeper Gordon Banks to acrobatically keep it out. A defining moment for both men.

The dummied miss (Uruguay 1-3 Brazil, 1970 World Cup)

It is a testament to how enshrined 1970 – Pele's third and final World Cup triumph – is in his legacy that it is three chances, three misses that linger in the memory.

This time, Pele took the ball on to Uruguay goalkeeper Ladislao Mazurkiewicz and dummied him, before rounding to the right to strike. His shot agonisingly missed the bottom-left corner – but still didn't hurt his side's victory.

Pele, the Brazil great and three-time World Cup winner, has died.

The 82-year-old had been moved to palliative care early in December after his body stopped responding to cancer treatment.

Before Christmas Day, his family travelled to be by his side at the Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital in Sao Paulo.

His death was confirmed by his daughter on Thursday.

Pele was regarded by most as one of the greatest players in the history of football, leaving an indelible legacy after a career that lasted 21 years.

He played the majority of his club career at Santos, for whom he scored 643 goals in 659 matches over an 18-year period. He also represented the New York Cosmos between 1975 and 1977.

But it was his impact for Brazil that truly cemented his status as a sporting icon and all-time football great.

He helped the Selecao to World Cup success in 1958, 1962 and 1970, with no player in the tournament's history winning it more than him.

Pele's first World Cup triumph in 1958 came when he was just 17 years and 249 days old, making him the youngest player ever to win it. He also scored in the showpiece game – no one younger has ever netted in a World Cup final.

That was one of 77 goals at international level, a haul that still has not been overhauled by a Brazilian player, with Neymar just two behind.

After his retirement, Pele lent his name and influence to many charitable initiatives and will be remembered as arguably the greatest World Cup player of all time.

Pele: 1940-2022

December 29, 2022

Pele remains the marker to whom modern greats such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are compared.

The Brazilian legend is one of football’s most iconic figures and his death at the age of 82 brings the curtain down on a life and career that entertained and inspired in equal measure.

The forward, born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Tres Coracoes in 1940, was just 15 years old when he made his Santos debut in 1956, winning his first Brazil cap the following year.

It was at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden that Pele first commanded international attention, though.

Brazil were yet to lift the Jules Rimet trophy when Pele first burst onto the scene, but the teenager helped kick-start a period of success for the South American nation with a series of scintillating displays.

After breaking into Vicente Feola's starting XI for the final game of the group stage against the Soviet Union, Pele thrived during the knockout matches, scoring six goals as Brazil saw off Wales, France and Sweden to clinch their maiden title.

Pele's influence began to tell domestically too, scoring 127 goals in 1959, and Santos picked up the first of five consecutive Taca Brasil crowns in 1961 – the same year he was declared a Brazilian national treasure – before a groin injury hindered his involvement in the country's successful World Cup defence in Chile in 1962.

Santos collected back-to-back Copa Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup triumphs in 1962 and 1963 – Pele scoring in all four finals – but he was a marked man at the 1966 World Cup in England, with heavy tackles limiting his influence as Brazil crashed out at the group stage.

There would be one last World Cup flourish for Pele, though, scoring the opener and turning in a superb final display as Brazil beat Italy 4-1 to reclaim the title, earning the legendary striker a record third tournament win.

After a brief retirement, Pele eventually closed out his career playing for the New York Cosmos in the United States.

Pele's achievements have been celebrated with countless individual accolades, including being a joint winner of FIFA's Player of the Century with Diego Maradona in 2000.

"God was really generous with Pele in every way," former international team-mate Rivellino told Stats Perform. "Physically speaking he was a perfect athlete.

"He was fantastic, a good team-mate, very positive, always pushing us to win.

"He was a guy I learned a lot from, he was an example for me on the pitch.

"He wanted to get perfection. It is difficult to get there but he got very close to it.

"His headers were the best, his ball control was like no one else's, he was great with both legs. He could even play as a goalkeeper, so he was a phenomenal player and I believe in life I will not see anyone like him.

"All he won and did, for me there won't be another one. 

"Another great player may appear – an excellent player – but another king like him? No."

Pele spent his later years working as an ambassador for a variety of charitable causes and commercial partners, but it is his magic on the field that will forever set the benchmark.

Philippe Coutinho has shut down speculation he is looking to leave Aston Villa, with the Brazil international blasting reports he wants an exit as "lies".

The former Liverpool and Barcelona playmaker initially arrived at Villa Park in January on a short-term loan deal under Steven Gerrard, whom he played alongside at Liverpool.

A successful spell earned a permanent move from Barca during the off-season, but following Gerrard's sacking in October, Unai Emery took charge at the Midlands club.

Reports emerged earlier this month the 30-year-old was seeking a departure in the January transfer window, but Coutinho has taken to social media to rubbish those claims.

"In the last few days I've seen a lot of news with my name," he said in an Instagram post. "The problem is now that some lies have started, and I'm here to clarify.

"Never, and at any moment, [have I] had any kind of conversation asking to leave the club, because I'm happy here and my family [are] too.

"My only focus now that I've recovered from injury is to work at the maximum every day, to play [at] a high level, and help the club and my team-mates to achieve our goals."

It has been a tough campaign for Coutinho so far, with form and injury struggles contributing to him losing his position in the Brazil squad ahead of the World Cup.

After recording eight goal involvements (five goals, three assists) in 19 Premier League games during his initial loan spell, he has failed to contribute any in 13 league games since the move was made permanent.

Roberto Firmino was "frustrated" at missing out on Brazil's World Cup squad, but intends to use it as motivation.

The Liverpool forward was a surprise omission by head coach Tite for the tournament in Qatar, where Brazil were knocked out in the quarter-finals on penalties by Croatia.

Firmino had made a good start to the season at club level, scoring nine goals and recording four assists in 21 appearances (16 starts).

The 31-year-old put it down to being part of "God's plan", and hopes it can spur him on to improve further still.

"Of course it was frustrating not being called up to the World Cup but as I've said before, that's part of God's plan and I am following God's plan," he said to talkSPORT.

"It really does motivate me more and more not having gone to the World Cup, so I will work hard to get back into the Selecao."

Despite having time to rest during the World Cup, Firmino was unable to play in either of Liverpool's first two games back against Manchester City and Aston Villa due to illness, and is unlikely to feature in Friday's home clash with Leicester City either.

However, the player suggested he should be fine beyond that and is soon to be back in training, adding further to manager Jurgen Klopp's attacking options.

"I'm already healed, thank God. I'll probably train tomorrow [Thursday]," Firmino added. "Then all being well I'll be ready, not for the next game [Leicester] but the one after that [away to Brentford on January 2]. So all great."

Liverpool had a shaky start to the season prior to the World Cup, winning just six of their 14 Premier League games (D4, L4), but won 3-1 at Aston Villa in their first league game post-World Cup on Monday.

The club also confirmed the signing of Dutch forward Cody Gakpo from PSV on Wednesday, which will go through on January 1 pending a work permit, and Firmino is confident the Reds can push on and put their previous woes behind them.

"Individually speaking, I started [the season] very well," he said. "Of course we, as a team, did not start the season well, but we are coming back. 

"Thanks to the work we are doing, and our mentality of never giving up, we're now back and in form."

It may sound bizarre in practically every way, but the Premier League resumes on Boxing Day following its mid-season World Cup break.

Barely eight days on from the World Cup final in Qatar, England's top flight returns with no one able to afford a sluggish resumption.

Of course, much has changed since Premier League teams were last in action in early November, and in one respect nowhere is that truer than at Arsenal.

Although top of the table, the Gunners are now without the man that many felt was key in transforming their fortunes this season, with Gabriel Jesus facing a significant spell on the sidelines due to injury.

Their season resumes at home to West Ham on Monday, with all eyes on how well they adapt without the Brazilian.

Boxing Day omens

The festive period is usually fairly unpredictable due to the sheer number of games teams have to play in December. The circumstances are obviously a little different this year.

With that in mind, most players should be fairly fresh, even considering those midweek EFL Cup exploits.

Perhaps then Arsenal will be even more confident of continuing their excellent record on Boxing Day, having last lost at home on December 26 in 1987. That is a run of 13 games without defeat – the last 10 of those were victories.

West Ham's recent record couldn't be much more different, having won just one of their past eight Boxing Day games – home or away – with a defeat of Swansea City in Wales six years ago the exception.

Does form matter?

If we rewind to early November, Arsenal were flying.

They won each of their previous nine Premier League home games before the season's break, with six of those wins coming this season.

Victory on Monday would equal their longest winning home run from the start of a top-flight campaign after also winning their first seven in 1934-35, 2005-06 and 2017-18.

Arsenal won their last three league matches, including at Chelsea and at Wolves, by an aggregate score of 8-0; they have not won four in a row without conceding since May 2014.

And to top it all off, West Ham lost each of their three most recent games to leave them with 11 away losses for the calendar year, last losing as many as 12 back in 2013.

But those respective runs and streaks were last added to roughly six weeks ago, so how much will they really count for? Certainly, for West Ham, the only way is up.

Gunned down

Hammers boss David Moyes has a generally dreadful record against the so-called top six.

It's become a bit of a feature in the Premier League, and Monday's trip to Arsenal puts his record back in the spotlight.

He has lost more away games against Arsenal in all competitions than he has any other opponent (17).

Further to that, he has only faced Chelsea (23 matches) on the road more often without ever winning than he has the Gunners (21).

Can Moyes finally end his Arsenal hoodoo?

Nketiah looks to answer the call

Jesus' absence for Arsenal is more than just about a goals output.

The Brazilian's haul of five in 14 Premier League games this term is hardly the stuff of legend, but he has offered so much to Arsenal's general play, bringing an ability to conjure something out of nothing and giving them a feisty edge in attack.

Eddie Nketiah will likely be the one to profit from Jesus' absence in terms of first-team minutes. The two players are significantly different, but the young Englishman might argue he will bring more of a goal threat.

 

In his previous 10 starts across all competitions at Emirates Stadium, Nketiah has scored 10 goals from just 15 shots on target.

Before this run, Nketiah netted only three goals in his first 10 home starts for Arsenal.

No one expects him to fully replace Jesus' influence, but helping the Gunners kick-start the season again with a positive impact against West Ham could be the reassurance some Arsenal fans need while awaiting the Brazil forward's return.

Pele's daughter has shared a moving photo with her father on social media as they cherish "one more night together" while treatment continues in hospital.

The 82-year-old has been battling colon cancer for over a year and was admitted into hospital last month.

Messages of support from across the sporting world were shared with the three-time World Cup winner, including from present day Brazil talisman Neymar.

Kely Nascimento, Pele's daughter, has been providing updates on her father's condition throughout his time in hospital and posted a moving photo of the pair embracing on Friday.

Sharing the post on Instagram, the caption read: "We continue to be here, in fight and in faith. One more night together."

She had previously confirmed Pele would be staying in hospital during the Christmas period, saying: "We decided with doctors that, for many reasons, it will be best for us to stay here, with all the care that this new family at Einstein gives us.

"We will even make some caipirinhas (no kidding). We love you and we will give up an update next week."

Tammy Abraham is unsurprised by reports suggesting both Portugal and Brazil are interested in Roma coach Jose Mourinho, who he views as an "uncle" figure.

Mourinho led Roma to the inaugural Europa Conference League title last season, his fifth major continental triumph after winning both the UEFA Cup/Europa League and Champions League on two occasions.

However, the Giallorossi boss has been linked with an exit in the aftermath of the World Cup, with both Portugal and Brazil searching for a new coach following quarter-final exits in Qatar.

Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Roma striker Abraham said any side would be fortunate to have Mourinho, crediting the 59-year-old's methods for his own development. 

"Jose is a great coach, everyone wants him," Abraham said. "It's also an honour that an important national team like Portugal is looking for him, but I'm sure the coach is focused on the team. 

"We've read the news on social media, but we haven't discussed it. We're all focused on Roma.

"He's a point of reference, I consider him to be like my uncle in Rome. He wants the best for me, when I don't express myself at my best, he pushes me. 

"Even when I play well, he's never satisfied and that's what I need. I'm not the type for pats on the back, but I need that trust he shows in me every day."

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