The English Premier League will resume on Wednesday following over three months of non-action due to the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world.
Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, and Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi were among those who first tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the stoppage of matches.
Before it went on the compulsory and unplanned break, 29 rounds of matches had been played with nine more yet to be decided with the readjusted calendar meaning the league will end on July 26th.
Football authorities have put several safety measures in place ahead of the Premier League restart.
Before the resumption date was confirmed, clubs had resumed training with players doing so in pairs of two until there was a go-ahead for full-fledged practices.
Also, players and coaching staff were tested for the virus and as football returns in the English topflight, social distancing rules will be maintained as much as possible.
FIFA had given the nod for five substitutions instead of three, fans will not be allowed to watch their teams in the stadia and goal celebrations would be minimized equally as one of the most followed leagues in the world restarts.
The resumption of the games will rekindle not just rivalries as there are a lot of things up for grabs.
Merseyside outfit Liverpool were on the cusp of a first domestic league crown in 30 years before the coronavirus-induced break. They were on 82 points having played 29 matches.
The resumption of football, however, means they can now wrap up an impressive campaign that has seen them lose and draw one match each; amassing 82 points.
Jurgen Klopp’s charges are just two matches away from being declared winners of the 2019/2020 season.
The celebrations can, however, come faster if Arsenal are able to beat Pep Guardiola’s second-placed Manchester City (57 points) on Wednesday and the Reds win their match against Everton.
Aside from contending for the EPL crown, the 2018/2019 UEFA Champions League winners will be looking to break City’s record of 100 points in a single term.
Guardiola’s men created that record when they won the Premier League in the 2017/2018 term.
Liverpool will need 18 points to equal that milestone with just nine rounds of fixtures to be played.
They could also better City’s 19 points winning margin created in the 2017/18 season.
The restart of the EPL will not just rekindle some of the most intense rivalries in football; players alike will be gunning for personal accolades one of which is the top scorer’s gong.
England striker, Jamie Vardy has been flourishing under the tutelage of coach Brendan Rodgers and that has seen him leading the top scorer’s chart with 19 goals from 26 games for the Foxes.
He is closely followed by Arsenal’s Gabonese forward, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who has struck 17 times in 26 matches for Mikel Arteta’s side.
The former Borussia Dortmund man was awarded the prize in the previous season alongside Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Salah of Liverpool are breathing down their necks with 16 goals each.
A chasing pack which includes Southampton’s Danny Ings, Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham, and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford will also fancy their chances of landing the Golden Boot gong when the season ends.
The race for Champions League spot in the Premier League is fierce. Pep Guardiola’s City have been banned from taking part in the Champions League for the next two campaigns for breaching Financial Fair Play rules.
The club has launched an appeal for a reversal and unless this is successful, they will have to relinquish their Champions League spot to the fifth-place side.
Leicester City look secured in third place with 53 points, five above Frank Lampard’s Chelsea who are fourth on the log.
But the spot for fourth place looks within reach for many teams and even Arsenal who are ninth on the table having played 28 games with 40 points to show for it.
United who were on a five-game unbeaten streak before the forceful break are lurking around to overtake Chelsea who occupy the precious Champions League spot.
They are just three points (45) of the Blues but will have to also contend with surprise packages – Wolves and Sheffield United – who they lead by two points.
Although Tottenham, in eighth and Arsenal in ninth and are eight points away from the fourth position with a game in hand, will also fancy their chances of returning to Europe’s elite club competition.
The Gunners have missed the tournament since the 2016/2017 season and will face a stiff test when they visit the Etihad Stadium in their first game back after the break.
While other teams are battling for European places at the top of the table, it is a fight for survival for the Bottom teams.
Norwich City are rock bottom with 21 points from 29 matches, six points below safety and will need a miracle to stay in the top flight next season.
West Ham, Watford, and Bournemouth are all on 27 points and on the 16th, 17th, and 18th positions respectively.
This means there is still a lot to be fought for and a win would make all the difference for any of the teams.
Among the bottom five sides, Aston Villa appear to have the advantage to reset their poor run of forms.
They have a game in hand and a win could catapult them off the relegation zone after their poor run of four back-to-back defeats.
Although the odds looked against them late last year, Watford’s surprising 3-0 victory over Liverpool, in March, which was their fourth win in five games, may well be the revival they need for survival.
Bonus: Golden Gloves
It would not just be about the strikers as the Premier League returns. Liverpool’s Alisson Becker and Kasper Schmeichel of Leicester City, among others, will battle for the Golden Gloves.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has threatened industrial resistance following the increase in electricity tariffs by the Nigerian Electricity…
Seven hundred and thirty-seven corps members from the Batch B have tested positive for COVID-19.
Joe Biden's Democratic Party took a giant step Wednesday towards seizing control of the US Senate as they won…
No fewer than 30 Cross River State magistrates have protested against non-payment of their 24 months salaries at the…
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday in his first address of the new year that he was "frustrated" by the…
The Grammy awards celebrating music slated for January 31 in Los Angeles have been postponed due to COVID-19, which…