Premier League resumes – What to expect from the matches and players?
After a lull of nearly three months caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Premier League is set to return. The first matches of the most followed league in the world will be played on June 17, when Manchester City take on Arsenal and Sheffield United host Aston Villa. This would ensure all teams have played 29 games each.
Like most other leagues around the globe, there will be no fans in the stands. Since the provisional agreement to start the league from June 17, the Premier league has conducted three rounds of testing with 6,274 people resulting in 13 positive Coronavirus tests. It is not clear whether the positive cases are players, coaches, staff or other related parties.
After the first two games, 180 games will be played in total if the Premier League continues to function unhindered. Liverpool stand at the top of the table, agonizingly close to the trophy, with 82 points from 29 games with just one loss. Second-placed Manchester City are 25 points behind with 10 matches left to play.
Last-place Norwich City is four points behind everyone else at 20th and six points from escaping the relegation zone. From 14th to 19th, it’s pretty crowded with four points separating five teams. Brighton leads that group with 29 points and a healthy 8 goal difference. After them, West Ham, Watford and Bournemouth stand tied on 27 points. Aston Villa is second from bottom with 25 points.
If the season can’t be completed, the standings will be determined by unweighted points per game.
Players have got such a long break after years, as most summer breaks have promotional tours for clubs or international tournaments such as the Euros or the World Cups. Most of them will be fresh, and several stars have made a comeback from long-term injuries. Manchester United have Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Scott Mctominay back from injury layoffs, getting a major boost.
None of them, however, are match-fit, and to fix that, FIFA had suggested five substitutions per game per team, which has been implemented by the Premier League officials. Players can be expect to pull their hamstrings or injure themselves, and medical teams will have to up their game to bring their footballers to their peak fitness in record time.
Liverpool are two wins away from snatching their first Premier League title, and can be expected to win it comfortably. Manchester City in second spot can be expected to complete the season in the top four, but a lot depends on UEFA’s ruling on them. Leicester City, Chelsea and Manchester United are separated by eight points in the next three rungs, and all three will vie to end as high as possible to ensure CL qualification.
The return of the Premier League certainly brings relief to huge number of fans across the globe, who can now see their favourite stars create magic on the pitch week in week out again.
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