100 days. Just before Sheffield United vs. Aston Villa begins tomorrow afternoon, it will have been over three months since the last kick of a football in a Premier League match. Unlike past years, the long pause in domestic competition is not because of the end of one season and the beginning of another, but instead an unwelcome delay to an enthralling campaign.
The last few months have been an unprecedented and unforeseeable time for the entire world, and the absence of sport, in particular football, has made the situation that much more difficult. But there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.
Players may not be fully fit and fans may not be in attendance, but the Premier League is FINALLY back. It won’t be what we are accustomed to, but we don’t care. We have our fix once more.
Here is the Top Bins Talk Premier League Restart Preview:
The Title-Race May Be Over, But There’s Still Lots To Play For
Whether you like it or not, Liverpool will be crowned champions very, very soon. Their brilliance throughout the course of the season has been so dominant that they were just days away from winning the league before the season was halted. Soon enough, they will become the earliest Premier League winners in games played but the latest ever, by date. Weird.
Despite the lack of a title-race in the run-in, there is still plenty to look forward to for Premier League fans. Behind Liverpool is a deep pack raring to go as they look to gain Champions League qualification for next season. This has become even more complicated considering Manchester City, who are almost guaranteed a top-four finish, may be banned from European competition next season, meaning 5th place may be up for grabs as a Champions League spot. There are realistically seven other teams vying for those 3rd, 4th, and 5th spots. Expect drama until the last day of the season.
Speaking of drama, the fight to avoid relegation will be just as enthralling, too. Six teams are still realistically in danger of dropping down to the Championship. Just eight points separate Brighton in 15th and Norwich in 20th. While Norwich look unlikely to avoid the drop, the other five sides know that a strong run of results will prove crucial if they want to avoid the plight down a division. Who will make a great escape? It’s all to play for.
Key Fixtures During the Run-In
Spurs vs. Manchester United, Friday, 19th June.
This matchup will be the first game back between two sides vying for one of the final Champions League spots. Mourinho will have been delighted for this break, as it has allowed his Tottenham side to bring the likes of Kane and Son back from injury in time for the pivotal stretch of the season. Ole Gunnar Solskjær and his United side won’t be too displeased, either, as they now have a fully fit Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford at their disposal. Expect fireworks in this one.
Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace, Wednesday, June 24
This ~should~ be the game that Liverpool are crowned Champions. If Manchester City beat Arsenal on Wednesday, then wins at Everton on the 21st and another at Selhurst will see the Reds finally awarded the Premier League title for the first time in 30 years.
Sheffield United vs. Wolves, Wednesday, July 8
All the focus has been on the likes of Man. United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Spurs in the race for the top four, but these two sides are in the thick of the action, too. Chris Wilder’s Blades have surprised everyone with their tactical flexibility, work-rate and defensive organization, while Wolves have gained a reputation for upsetting the big boys. Whoever wins this game may begin to start dreaming of European nights next season.
Tottenham vs. Arsenal, Saturday, July 11
The North London Derby is one thing, but a NLD in the middle of a battle for the top four (five) is another. Whoever wins this could be incentivized to make a late push for a Champions League spot. Expect fireworks, crunching challenges, touchline fights, and goals (lots of them).
Leicester vs. Manchester United, Sunday, July 26
A final day of the season clash where the stakes could be VERY high. Nothing is better than a league outcome being decided on the last day, and both teams are desperate to qualify for next season’s Champions League. Expect a cup-final type showdown.
West Ham vs. Aston Villa, Sunday, July 26
As we’ve previously mentioned, there is also plenty of excitement on the other end of the table. These two relegation-threatened sides meet on the final day of the season in a match that could have huge repercussions for both teams. Can Jack Grealish save his Villa side from the drop? Or will Mark Noble lead his boyhood club to safety? It could be decided during these 90 minutes.
Although we’ve missed out on so much over the past few months, the return of the Premier League finally gives us something to smile about. No matter what happens to your side, you should feel lucky to be able to enjoy the game we love once more. Soak it all in, because there’s nothing like the Premier League.