Updated: Jul 19, 2020
Why relegation and European spots are so exciting
Let me begin by saying I’m so glad the EPL decided to postpone and not cancel the season due to COVID-19. Around the world, other leagues postponed things and it meant an asterisks by the winner or a legal battle for the relegation sides arguing that they were not given a fair chance. The EPL is too big a league, too prestigious to make these mistakes and therefore there has been a 99-day hiatus which ends in less than 24 hours. The full season of 38 games will still be played with teams having either 9 or 10 games left to play.
Let's have a look at what will be some of the key talking points.
Liverpool currently lead 2nd placed Manchester City (1 less game played) by 25 points. Liverpool need to effectively win two of their nine games to be crowned Premier League champions for the first time. Yes that’s right, they’ve never been Premier League champions since the top tier was rebranded 30 years ago!
I know it’s popular to hate Liverpool unless you’re a scouse from the red part of town but every neutral supporter surely has to admire what Jurgen Klopp has done in transforming this ‘big club’ into an absolute powerhouse. Runners up in Champions League 2018, Champions League winners last year along with the highest point tally ever for 2nd, they have earned this Premier League title. Klopp sold some key players and then invested heavily in some absolute gems while giving confidence and bringing the best out of others. Even if Donkey Kong turned up with a pallet of bananas and spread them over the field I can’t see them failing to get the required 6 points in 9 games to be crowned league champions.
Liverpool - 2019 Champions League
So with first place a forgone conclusion, it is the remaining three places up for grabs in Europe’s top continental competition that it is very interesting. Who will get the final European spots?
Manchester City & Leicester City
Man City have a sufficient buffer to be safe while Leicester City have an 8-point buffer to 5th place Manchester United at this stage. Leicester surprised us all a few years ago winning the league but this current side under the very underrated Brendan Rogers (he took over Liverpool in their darkest hour), are a fantastic squad brimming with quality that is both young and old. I expect them to stay in the top 4. Now it’s the final spot that gets super interesting!
Frank Lampard in his first season in charge is giving some youth a run, how will they respond after such a long break? I personally think the break would have played into Chelsea’s favour as the side didn’t become fatigued.
I hate Man U! To me they are the side with all the favours – wealth, history and top players, yet since Sir Alex has retired they have become a ramble full of excuses. They overpay in the transfer market and pay inflated wages. I personally hope they miss the cherished top four spot but being only one win away from Chelsea and with a slightly better goal difference they are a red hot chance of making it.
Wolves & Sheffield United
Both have surprised many pundits to be so high, particularly the promoted Sheffield United. Defence wins matches and they have a great keeper in Dean Henderson, along with a very experienced and stingy back four while the Wolves have an exciting young core. Ultimately though I suspect they don’t have the top end quality to finish in the top 4 but will be in contention for the Europa League spots.
Spurs & Arsenal
The remaining two 'big 6 clubs' who have underwhelmed badly this year. Still only 7 points behind 4th place Chelsea. Arsenal in fact have a game in hand, yet the way they’ve both played pre COVID, it looks highly unlikely. Spurs has been the major disappointment of the two, world class players in their prime and last year Champions League runners-up. It must be highly frustrating that their trophy cabinet is full of dust and the summer could be an exodus of talent.
This is just as exciting as the European spots battle with 8 sides mathematical chances of going down. 38 points generally gets you to safety, but ask any West Ham fan and they’ll clearly remember their talent laden squad of 2002/03 going down with 42 points! Norwich look the most likely to go down while you would assume Newcastle and Southampton should be safe, however three losses on the trot and if the teams below keep accumulating points, you could suddenly get very nervous. Three teams are currently all locked on 27 points at the moment with relegation coming down to goal differential. It might be a case of only losing 2-0 to Liverpool as opposed to a 6-1 shellacking that is the difference between safety and a trip to the championship. While on the championship, that’s where my team currently is, Leeds United and fingers crossed we can stay top two and gain automatic promotion back. It honestly has been too long for this sleeping giant not playing top flight football. The heart ache over the past few years of just missing promotion is also unbearable.
It's been a long drought for Leeds United fans
Fingers crossed Optus Sport handles the volume of EPL fans across Australia better than the last World Cup! I’m also expecting Manchester City to come out all guns blazing and put 3+ goals past Arsenal, jeez it's good to have it back!