Having not qualified for the World Cup, many Dream Team gaffers expected a certain Norwegian player to return from the mid-season break in blistering form.
And such suspicions have proved valid.
Erling Haaland (£9.1m) is not the man in question, however, although Man City’s No9 has scored four goals in three games since the resumption of the domestic campaign.
It’s his compatriot Martin Odegaard (£3.2m) who has seemingly benefited from a refreshing break the most as the Arsenal midfielder has been in talismanic form since the restart.
Initially, it looked as if the Gunners’ momentum had been thwarted by events in Qatar when they went 1-0 down to West Ham on Boxing Day but that lacklustre performance turned into a competent one as the league leaders rallied to win 3-1.
Odegaard provided two assists in the second half and claimed the Star Man award to bank 12 points.
Then on New Year’s Eve, Arsenal’s captain scored his side’s second goal away to Brighton before providing a glorious assist for Gabriel Martinelli (£3.5m) for the fourth in an entertaining 4-2 victory on the south coast.
Again, Odegaard earned the Star Man award to pocket 15 points.
In both games, the 24-year-old was instrumental in keeping his team’s title challenge on track.
Couple this with Man City’s draw at home to Everton and the festive period and has a joyous one for Mikel Arteta’s side, who are now seven points clear having won 14 of their last 16 league fixtures in 2022/23.
Ominously, no team has ever failed to win the title having amassed as many points as Arsenal have at this stage of the season.
From an individual perspective, Odegaard’s form is actually a continuation of where he left off prior to the World Cup.
The former Real Madrid midfielder scored a brace against Wolves back in Game Week 14 for an 18-point haul.
He’s achieved a hat-trick of Star Man awards in his last three fixtures for an influx of 45 points overall – only Kevin De Bruyne (£8m) has more points than Odegaard’s grand total of 94 points at this stage among assets in the pair’s position.
And the Belgian playmaker is the only man with more Star Man awards (six) than Odegaard’s five right now.
This is particularly notable because the Man City midfielder is comfortably over twice as expensive as the Gunners’ skipper.
In fact, Odegaard is the second-cheapest midfielder in the top ten at this juncture although his price will continue to rise given his recent returns.
Some fans feared that Gabriel Jesus’ absence through injury would disrupt Arsenal’s attacking unit but Arteta’s men have scored seven goals in two outings with Odegaard, Martinelli, Bukayo Saka (£4.4m) and Eddie Nketiah (£2.6m) combining impressively.
All Dream Team managers without Odegaard in their XI have suffered over the festive period and despite a relatively tough run of fixtures (Newcastle, Oxford, Spurs, Man United) there could well be more points to come in the coming weeks.