It has been a long century of days. One hundred days without Premier League football since the COVID19 pandemic brought the league to its knees. And while humanity continues to battle with the virus, the joy of having the most watched league back on our screens is a great welcome.
The EPL kicks off tonight with Aston Villa playing hosts to Sheffield United, the former looking to secure top flight football next season and the latter, a Champions League spot.
Some changes as measures have been put in place and one should not be surprised with the 5 substitutions, staggered pitch entries, and of course- pre-game handshakes for more than obvious reasons.
With 9 games to go till the end of the season, here are some of the things we expect as the EPL returns.
LIVERPOOL- CHAMPIONS OF ENGLAND
With a 25-point gap ahead of title rivals, Liverpool’s coronation as Champions of England is a case of when rather than can.
The Merseyside club are two wins away from their first league title in 30 years and could see their crowning come earlier should Man City lose to Arsenal at the Etihad and Liverpool winning their game at Everton, a success story that must pierce hard at the heart for the blue side of Merseyside.
It has been a long wait for the Anfield faithful and the proper climax to the club’s years of planning to get to this point.
It has been picking steam gradually in the past days but nothing, absolutely nothing, compares to matchday banter. 100 days of locked up spirit-breaking, teeth-grinding banter and I can sense there is no holding back.
Man City host Arsenal at the Etihad in a late night fixture today and the outcome is one rival fans must be dying for. Punters have Pep’s side to win and while the Citizens don’t have the title to lose, the club would certainly not be making it easy for Klopp to win on their own mistakes.
The Gunners have lost their last five league meetings against City, and a loss tonight might just mean more than falling down the table.
BETTER FAN VIEWING EXPERIENCE
The Premier League remains the most watched league and for good reason. The League continues to make intentional efforts in its content and delivery and this has ensured the league remains a cash cow.
With clubs having to play behind closed doors, leagues have come up with innovative ways to enhance viewing experience for its followers with added sound experience and graphic displays of fans across the ground.
The Premier League, we expect would have a better experience having been a pioneer of matchday content and packgages and we don’t expect any less from them rather the league demonstrating once again why it is the best in the world.
EARLY ERRORS AND MATCH FITNESS ISSUES
Even the best of professional althletes need to remain sharp and ready to go and the lock down might just affect a few players especially the ones who require matches to gather momentum.
It has been a common sight since football returned with players bent at the knees looking out of breath and rusty with poor ball touches and we should be expecting similar.
Players who have remained active during the lockdown might have the earlier edge but we expect some bit of normalcy after some games in.
INTENSIFIED FIGHT FOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SPOTS
Who is getting it, who is being left out? The race for Champions League spots next season would be more intense with title already decided.
Man City currently have a two year ban from Europe and while the club is currently appealing the ban, fifth place will be enough to get a Champions League spot.
At the moment, Liverpool, Leicester, Chelsea and Man Utd currently occupy qualification spots but we expect big fights from Wolves, Sheffield, Tottenham, and Arsenal who would be looking to get a spot in Europe’s biggest competition too.