The Premier League is back this Wednesday, with no crowds and a promise to dutifully pick up where they left off, exciting the fans with pulsating action, their larger than life characters, and ever-present storylines.
Don’t get me, sports fans worldwide have been aching for any sort of sports actions so much so there was a spike in E-Sports while sports had to take a step back as preserving lives took precedence over entertainment as should be the case always. That said, very few would disagree with me when I say this is the grandest sport of them and all and the Premier League is top league worldwide.
Liverpool’s twenty-five-point lead at the summit of the league is the biggest we have seen over recent seasons and as they look to come back and wrap up what has been a memorable and unprecedented season. The interesting talking points lie below them and that is what will keep us wide-eyed and glued to our television sets between this Wednesday and the end of the season.
There could be a battle for fourth place if Chelsea who are sitting on 48pts, three ahead of Manchester United and five ahead of Wolves, slip up early on. This could result in a tight run in for fourth. What of the story of Sheffield United, who are surely are targeting a European place via the Europa League? Could a slip up there in seventh place opening room for Spurs and Arsenal who lie in eighth and nineth respectively?
There are other teams that have a point to prove and points to win to show that the managerial changes that took place during the season were not in vain and next season will be better than the current season. Teams such as Arsenal, Tottenham and at the bottom of the log Watford have new managers at the helm who have promised to turnaround the ship. Manchester United are another team with a point to prove as they were beginning to find some form once again, it would have been interesting how long this would have lasted seeing as similar feats have been reached only for the consistency to have an abrupt stop.
At the bottom end of the table nineteenth placed Aston Villa are just two points behind Bournemouth, Watford, and West Ham. There will many twists and turns in seeing which two sides will join Norwich who look certain to be relegated when its all said and done.
There will also be some interesting managerial matchups and in typical Premier League fashion Guardiola squares up with his former right-hand man in Arteta when the season reopens.
Guardiola will go on to face Arteta in the opener, Lampard and Klopp in the coming weeks to round up his matchups versus marquee coaches.
Rodgers and Leicester will face Lampard, Arteta, Mourinho and ends the season versus Solksjaer.
Lampard will sharpen his side for the upcoming season by facing Guardiola, Rodgers, Wilder, Klopp and Espirito-Santo.
Solksjaer will face Mourinho, Wilder and Rodgers as he guns for a top four spot.
Espirito-Santo will also face just three of the top seven managers in Arteta, Wilder and Lampard.
Chris Wilder has a tough run when he faces Solksjaer, Arteta and Mourinho between the 24th of June and the 2nd of July. While Mourinho’s road to redemptions starts with this restart, his appointment was beginning to be questioned as his side’s performances began to wilt. Solksjaer, Wilder, Arteta and Rodgers will be aiming to cast more doubt over his tenure thus far by securing wins over him.
Arteta’s shaky attempt to resurrect his former club will be up against it when he faces Guardiola, Wilder and has the unenviable task of facing Espirito-Santo, Rodgers, Mourinho, and Klopp on the bounce. A huge ask for his mentally and defensively fragile side.
And lets not forget the golden boot race Jamie Vardy sits atop those standings with 19 goals, while Aubameyang is a close second on 17 goals, followed by Aguero 16 goals, Salah 16 goals, Ings 15 goals who would be licking their lips at a prospect of facing sluggish defences early on.
The assist king race isn’t as exciting as the golden boot race, De Bruyne leads the way with 16 assists and will be a betting favourite to surpass 20 assists and the only other player with double digits assists in the league being Alexander-Arnold who has 12 assists.
The golden glove race is another one that will be interesting to keep an eye on as the season winds down, Nick Pope leads this race with 11 clean sheets. While D. Henderson, Alisson and Schmeichel are on 10 clean sheets a piece, and these three must compete with four other goalkeepers who are on 9 clean sheets.