After 100 days without football, the Premier League returned last week. However, it is not back to formal for the UK top flight with matches played behind closed doors and clubs facing a frantic schedule 92 matches squeezed on 40 days before the 2019/20 season concludes on 26 July.
This end-of-season will be like no other in the history of Britain’s favourite sport, with the ongoing global pandemic influencing both who gets to play and how fans will be able to enjoy matches and support their favourite teams.
The League plans to continue its rigorous twice-weekly coronavirus testing regime, that has so far seen 16 positive tests from 8,687 swabs, with anyone who tests positive of suffers symptoms asked to self-isolate with their families according to teh Premier League’s medical adviser Dr Mark Gillett. And whilst ticket stiles will remain closed for the foreseeable future, fans will be able to enjoy live broadcasts of every game and four matches will be shown free-to-air on the BBC for the first time since the league’s inception in 1992.
As ‘Project Restart’ matches got underway last week, the league held a minute’s silence held for those who have lost their lives to Covid-19 before the first few matches and team kits continue to be adorned by heart-shaped badges to show everyone’s appreciation of frontline NHS staff. And it is not only the coronavirus that the League has felt the need to respond to over the last three months, with player names on the back of their shirts replaced with the words “Black Lives Matter” for the first 12 matches in support of those protesting for black rights and demonstrating that the League is aware of the value black players bring to the games every year.
This season will go down in the history books no matter the outcome, but for players and fans alike it is the performances and results that will make it a season they will remember or want to forget for years to come.
Liverpool are currently 20 points ahead of second place Manchester City, and so odds-on favourites to win the Premier League for the first time in the club’s history. And many are now claiming that after years of asking, the Reds have finally cemented themselves as the leading lights of English football, including former Liverpool and England striker Emile Heskey, who was quoted by 888 Sport blog explaining “They have slowly got to the point where they are the dominant force. They are the standard-bearers now. It was Manchester City for a while but now Liverpool has taken on that mantle.”
A Champions League spot seems assured for Liverpool this year, and seems nearly a formality for Manchester City and Leicester City and second and third, but fourth place is a tighter battle between Chelsea, Manchester United and Wolves, which have just two points separating them. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the table Norwich City are six points behind and look very likely to start next season in the Championship but the battle to avoid joining them is a tight scrap between Aston Villa, Bournemouth, West Ham, and Watford.
We have just over a month to find out.
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