Premier League bosses are said to be currently putting the finishing touches to their plan to restart the Premier League in England. Following weeks of lockdown and uncertainty in the UK due to the coronavirus outbreak, it appears there is some light at the end of the tunnel for sports fans.
There is still much to discuss concerning how they’ll get the season moving again and how best to play the games before the summer deadline when will UEFA require a free schedule to finish off their Champions League and Europa League competitions. It promises to be an interesting and busy summer for those loyal to the beautiful game in England.
Teams jostling for position
Things will really get interesting when football returns. Liverpool are well clear of the chasing pack at the top of the Premier League, and it is generally accepted they are likely to finish as champions of the competition. Nothing more than the reds deserved either following a stunning season. The worry was that Jurgen Klopp’s crew would lose out on the prize due to the cancellation of the season because of the disease, but that now seems unlikely.
The race for the title flag may not be quite as competitive as we’ve seen in recent years – just a point separated champions Manchester City and runners up Liverpool last term – but there’s plenty to hold our interest elsewhere. The top flight of English football looks all set for a dramatic finish, teams jostling for position in the top four and the top six, as well as outside the bottom three.
When football does return, who will be the big winners and losers in the division? In the top four, there are five or six teams with a realistic chance of filling the one position behind Liverpool, Man City and Leicester. This is important as the team finishing fourth will grab the last remaining spot in next season’s Champions League, collecting the big money that comes with it. After 29 games played, we see there is only eight points between Chelsea in fourth and Arsenal down in ninth. A battle that will become fierce when play resumes.
It’s interesting at the bottom
The race that really interests us, however, takes place at the wrong end of the table. Unlike with the top four, this isn’t a chase to win something but, instead, to avoid something, which is relegation to the Championship. The teams finishing 18th, 19th and 20th will lose their spot in the Premier League, dropping down into the Championship. As they do so, the unfortunate trio will suffer a financial hit (and at the worst possible time too). Things are tough enough for football teams at present, without being hit with relegation.
To make matters even more interesting, the bottom three teams at present are Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich but they haven’t all played the same number of fixtures. The Cherries and Canaries are on 29 games played but Villa have taken part in only 28 games. Win the spare and they would be free of the drop zone at this stage. That’s just one of the reasons football must return to action or the season must be declared null and void. Relegating Aston Villa when they have played a game less than those around them and are only two points away from safety would be unfair.
At present, Norwich City are six points off safety. Getting to safety isn’t impossible and they could still protect their place in the league for another season at least but their stats make that seem rather unlikely. The Canaries have won only five of their previous 29 starts, suffering no less than 18 defeats in the process. At the time of lockdown, the lowest-ranked club in the table had lost three of their last four.
Villa: the worst performing team
It’s rather more competitive above Norwich, however. Aston Villa are 19th on 25 points with a game in hand. They are two points behind Bournemouth in 18th and only four off Brighton up in 15th. A winning run could catapult Villa up through the standings. Their recent form doesn’t inspire confidence, however, and the club have lost each of their last four games. No points collected from a possible dozen means Villa are the worst-performing Premier League side in that period. They deserve a chance to save their skin but need drastic improvement if they are to achieve that.
Bournemouth have played all 29 games so far and are in the bottom three on 27 points, having won seven, drawn six and lost 16 so far. What’s interesting about the Cherries, however, is they are there on goal difference. Bournemouth have the same number of points as West Ham in 16th. They haven’t been performing too well either, picking up just one point in their last four outings, that’s less than bottom club Norwich City.
At this stage of the season, any three of six teams could be relegated. If we accept that Norwich are likely to get down, that means five clubs are battling to escape the two remaining relegation places. Four points the difference at this stage and the lowest ranking side have a game in hand. When the Premier League is played in front of empty stadiums, there’s going to be real tension in the air, that’s for sure. But that will make for gripping viewing.
Premier League relegation prediction
This season’s relegation battle appears to look like a case of which two teams will join Norwich. That’s harsh, as there’s lots of football still to be played, but the Canaries only have themselves to blame for their current plight, allowing 52 goals in 29 games.
Aston Villa have lost four on the bounce, but their future will come down to that spare game. Win it and things could change very quickly. Apart from the three sides currently in the relegation zone, Brighton in 15th are on a long winless run of four draws and a defeat in their last five. Fail to hit the ground running and the Seagulls could be shot down.