Premier League restart: Team-by-team guide as 2019-20 season resumes

Patrick Madden assesess each side’s lockdown losers, heroes and run-in prospects

The premier league restarts tonight with Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal. Photograph: PA

The premier league restarts tonight with Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal. Photograph: PA

 

Arsenal (9th)

Mikel Arteta’s positive test for coronavirus hastened the Premier League’s postponement. The Spanish manager had given Arsenal hope of salvaging a mess of a season with a European place.

Key player: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will need to add to his 17 goals when the season resumes if Arsenal are to climb the table.

Lockdown loser: Alexandre Lacazette had to be reminded about social distancing after having his car valeted in April, and was pictured inhaling laughing gas in May.

Hopes for the run-in: The Gunners were unbeaten in eight before the pandemic and are in the FA Cup quarter-finals. Sixth place and silverware would solidify Arteta’s credentials.

Fixtures: June 17th Manchester City (a) 8.15pm (Sky Sports) June 20th Brighton (a) 3pm (BT Sport), June 25th Southampton (a) 6pm (Sky Sports), July 1st Norwich (h) 6pm (BT Sport) TBC Wolves (a), Leicester (h), Tottenham (a), Liverpool (h), Aston Villa (a), Watford (h).

Arsenal will be hoping for a strong finish to the season under Mikel Arteta. Photograph: John Walton/PA
Arsenal will be hoping for a strong finish to the season under Mikel Arteta. Photograph: John Walton/PA

Aston Villa (19th)

It has been a testing return to the top flight for Villa, who were on a run of four-straight defeats and were stuffed 4-0 by Leicester in the Premier League’s last fixture in March.

Key player: Skipper Jack Grealish has led the fight against the drop. The vibrant John McGinn’s return from injury will be welcomed.

Lockdown loser: Grealish was pictured at the scene of a car crash in late March, 24 hours after asking fans to “stay home” during lockdown.

Hopes for the run-in: Villa have a good enough squad to avoid the drop providing they can tighten up - they’ve conceded 56 goals, the most in the league.

Fixtures: June 17th Sheffield United (h) 6pm (Sky Sports), June 21st Chelsea (h) 4.15pm (Sky Sports), June 24th Newcastle (a) 6pm (BT Sport), June 27th Wolves (h) 12.30pm (BT Sport) TBC Liverpool (a), Manchester United (h), Crystal Palace (h), Everton (a), Arsenal (h), West Ham (a).

Aston Villa’s hopes of staying up will rest largely on Jack Grealish’s shoulders. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty
Aston Villa’s hopes of staying up will rest largely on Jack Grealish’s shoulders. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty

Bournemouth (18th)

The Cherries’ five-year stint in the top flight could be coming to an end - if they return revitalised an escape is possible with things at the bottom congested.

Key player: Bournemouth have sorely missed winger David Brooks, who is fit again after an injury-plagued 12 months.

Lockdown hero: Manager Eddie Howe was the first Premier League boss to take a voluntary pay-cut after the coronavirus crisis saw football shut down.

Hopes for the run-in: Bournemouth’s fixtures are tough - they have to visit Wolves, Manchester United and Manchester City. A fast start at home to Crystal Palace is vital.

Fixtures: June 20th Crystal Palace (h) 7.45pm (BBC), June 24th Wolves (a) 6pm (BT Sport), July 1st Newcastle (h) 6pm (Sky Sports) TBC Manchester United (a), Tottenham (h), Leicester (h), Manchester City (a), Southampton (h), Everton (a).

Brighton & Hove Albion (15th)

Brighton hadn’t won a game since December 28th and were drifting into deep trouble when the season was suspended – the chance to take stock and start again might suit Graham Potter’s side.

Key player: The Seagulls have struggled for goals but Neal Maupay has impressed during his first season on the south coast, top scoring with eight.

Something for Stephen Kenny: Aaron Connolly has recovered from ankle surgery and has a big 12 months ahead of him, leading up to Euro 2021.

Hopes for the run-in: Potter’s six-year contract suggests this is the start of a project - a brutal fixture list could see the Seagulls dropping into the Championship.

Fixtures: June 20th Arsenal (h) 3pm (BT Sport), June 23rd Leicester (a) 6pm (Sky Sports) June 30th Manchester United (h) 8.15pm (Sky Sports), TBC Norwich (a), Liverpool (h), Manchester City (h), Southampton (a), Newcastle (h), Burnley (a).

Aaron Connolly is fit again as Brighton bid to beat the drop. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty
Aaron Connolly is fit again as Brighton bid to beat the drop. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty

Burnley (10th)

It has been another satisfactory season for Sean Dyche’s side, who were unbeaten in seven league fixtures - a run which included back-to-back wins over Leicester and Manchester United.

Key player: 20-year-old Dwight McNeil has sparkled at Turf Moor and Burnley could capitalise on uncertainty to retain his services for at least another year.

Something for Stephen Kenny: Jeff Hendrick has been linked with AC Milan and Roma during the lockdown - the 28-year-old’s contract runs out at the end of the season.

Hopes for the run-in: Relegation was never a real worry for Burnley- an audacious late charge for a Europa League spot looks unlikely, however.

Fixtures: June 22nd Manchester City (a) 8pm (Sky Sports), June 25th Watford (h) 6pm (Sky Sports), June 29th Crystal Palace (a) 8pm (Amazon Prime) TBC Sheffield United (h), West Ham (a), Liverpool (a), Wolves (h), Norwich (a), Brighton (h).

Chelsea (4th)

Chelsea have wasted no time building for the future with Timo Werner set to join Hakim Ziyech at Stamford Bridge - both will expect Champions League football.

Key player: Tammy Abraham started the season as Frank Lampard’s first-choice number nine - he will be desperate to add to his 13 goals and make a statement ahead of Werner’s arrival.

Lockdown loser: It has been an interesting few months for Callum Hudson-Odoi, who contracted coronavirus, before being arrested on a rape allegation in May which was later dropped.

Hopes for the run-in: With big money arrivals and a squad overhaul imminent, Frank Lampard has to steer the Blues back into the Champions League - anything less will be deemed a failure.

Fixtures: June 21st Aston Villa (a) 4.15pm (Sky Sports), June 25th Manchester City (h) 8.15pm (Sky Sports), July 1st West Ham (a) 8.15pm (Sky Sports) TBC Watford (h), Crystal Palace (a), Sheffield United (a), Norwich (h), Liverpool (a), Wolves (h).

Tammy Abraham is Chelsea’s top scorer with 13 in the league so far this season. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty
Tammy Abraham is Chelsea’s top scorer with 13 in the league so far this season. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty

Crystal Palace (11th)

Three successive victories pulled Palace from the fringes of danger and towards mid-table safety - mission accomplished once again for Roy Hodgson.

Key player: This has been Wilfried Zaha’s quietest season in south London but if he can emerge from the lockdown refreshed the Eagles could cause some upsets during a gruelling run-in.

Something for Stephen Kenny: Can James McCarthy force his way back into the international reckoning under new management? A strong finish to the season would help his cause.

Hopes for the run-in: Nine points from nine before the break could prove crucial for Palace, who still have to play Liverpool, Man United, Leicester, Wolves and Spurs. Tough.

Fixtures: June 20th Bournemouth (a), 7.45pm (BBC), June 24th Liverpool (a), 8.15pm (Sky Sports), June 29th Burnley (h) - 8pm (Amazon Prime) TBC Leicester (a), Chelsea (h), Aston Villa (a), Manchester United (h), Wolves (a), Tottenham (h).

Everton (12th)

In Carlo Ancelotti Everton have a truly elite manager - he has a huge job to do at Goodison Park, stalling Liverpool’s title charge in their first fixture back would be a welcome start.

Key player: Dominic Calvert-Lewin has led the line well but there’s still time for the tenacity and talent of Richarlison to turn the Toffees’ season around.

Something for Stephen Kenny: Seamus Coleman has been at the forefront of the #PlayersTogether initiative - a reminder of his leadership and importance off the pitch.

Hopes for the run-in: Victory over Liverpool on Saturday could spark a mini-renaissance for Everton, who have a steady run of fixtures and could still push for Europe.

Fixtures: June 21st Liverpool (h) 7pm (Sky Sports), June 24th Norwich (a) 6pm (BBC), July 1st Leicester (h) 6pm (Sky Sports) TBC Tottenham (a), Southampton (h), Wolves (a), Aston Villa (h), Sheffield United (a), Bournemouth (h).

Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton face Liverpool in their first game back. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty
Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton face Liverpool in their first game back. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty

Leicester City (3rd)

Leicester thrashed Aston Villa 4-0 in the league’s last game but the Foxes were starting to look leggy - the enforced break could see them rejuvenated as they bid to hold onto a Champions League spot.

Key player: It’s no coincidence Leicester’s poor run of form after Christmas coincided with an injury to Wilfried Ndidi, while Jamie Vardy is the league’s top scorer with 19.

Lockdown loser: Manager Brendan Rogers revealed in May he and his wife contracted coronavirus in March – both made a full recovery.

Hopes for the run-in: Leicester have an eight-point cushion between themselves and fifth-place and are in the FA Cup quarters. Champions League football and silverware would be a fine achievement.

Fixtures: June 20th Watford (a) 12.30pm (BT Sport), June 23rd Brighton (h) 6pm (Sky Sports) July 1st Everton (a) 6pm (Sky Sports) TBC Crystal Palace (h), Arsenal (a), Bournemouth (a), Sheffield United (h), Tottenham (a), Manchester United (h).

Wilfried Ndidi has been key to Leciester City’s impressive season. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty
Wilfried Ndidi has been key to Leciester City’s impressive season. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty

Liverpool (1st)

The coronavirus crisis has merely delayed the inevitable, with runaway leaders Liverpool refreshed and needing two victories to secure a first league title since 1990.

Key player: Currently on 16 goals, Mohamed Salah could still take the golden boot, but their impending championship has been built on the foundations of Virgil Van Dijk.

Lockdown loser: Liverpool didn’t follow the example of captain Jordan Henderson when deciding to furlough 200 non-playing staff members in April. The move was widely criticised and led to a swift U-turn.

Hopes for the run-in: Should Manchester City lose to Arsenal, Jurgen Klopp’s side can seal the title at Goodison Park, before the socially-distanced celebrations can begin.

Fixtures: June 21st Everton (a) 7pm (Sky Sports) June 24th Crystal Palace (h) 8.15pm (Sky Sports), July 2nd Manchester City (a) 8.15pm (Sky Sports) TBC Aston Villa (h), Brighton (a), Burnley (h), Arsenal (a), Chelsea (h), Newcastle (a).

Virgin van Dijk and Liverpool are two victories from the title. Photograph:Shaun Botterill/Getty
Virgin van Dijk and Liverpool are two victories from the title. Photograph:Shaun Botterill/Getty

Manchester City (2nd)

After their non-existent title defence, everything points towards Europe now for Man City. They have a first-leg lead over Real Madrid and are trying to overturn a two-year Uefa ban.

Key player: Kevin De Bruyne was the driving force behind City’s win in the Bernabeu and remains their best chance of a maiden European Cup win.

Lockdown hero: Let’s ignore Kyle Walker and focus on Raheem Sterling, who made a fine appearance on the BBC’s Newsnight in the wake of worldwide anti-racism protests.

Hopes for the run-in: With second place secure, the rest of the league season is a formality for Pep Guardiola’s side, who will be more interested in how things are settled on the continent.

Fixtures: June 17th Arsenal (h) 8.15pm (Sky Sports), June 22nd Burnley (h) 8pm (Sky Sports) June 25th Chelsea (a) 8.15pm (Sky Sports), July 2nd Liverpool (h) 8.15pm (Sky Sports) TBC Southampton (a), Newcastle (h), Brighton (a), Bournemouth (h), Watford (a), Norwich (h).

Raheem Sterling celebrates Man City’s League Cup win. Photograph: Getty
Raheem Sterling celebrates Man City’s League Cup win. Photograph: Getty

Manchester United (5th)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were flying before the season was halted - Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba are both back from injury as United fight for two trophies and a Champions League place.

Key player: The arrival of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting was the catalyst for an 11-game unbeaten run and lifted the club during an inconsistent season.

Lockdown hero: Marcus Rashford has been a shining light during the crisis and embarrassed the UK Government, raising £20million and writing to MPs over the decision to scrap free school meals for vulnerable childrem.

Hopes for the run-in: Man City’s European ban means fifth place could be enough for Champions League football - Solskjaer won’t settle for less than fourth and a trophy.

Fixtures: June 19th Tottenham (a) 8.15pm (Sky Sports), June 24th Sheffield United (h) 6pm (Sky Sports) June 30th Brighton (a) 8.15pm (Sky Sports) TBC Bournemouth (h), Aston Villa (a), Southampton (h), Crystal Palace (a), West Ham (h), Leicester (a).

Bruno Fernandes was the catalyst for Manchester United’s 11-game unbeaten run. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty
Bruno Fernandes was the catalyst for Manchester United’s 11-game unbeaten run. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty

Newcastle United (13th)

Newcastle have been one of the few football stories of lockdown, with a controversial Saudi-backed takeover still in the balance. Steve Bruce’s side are eight clear of the drop and should comfortably stay up.

Key player: Allan Saint-Maximim has enjoyed a fine debut season in England, providing an incisive attacking threat which Newcastle have often been lacking.

Lockdown loser: Newcastle supporters are still waiting to find out if their club will be owned by the risible Mike Ashley or a Saudi regime with a questionable human rights record.

Hopes for the run-in: Newcastle look set to avoid the drop and have an FA Cup quarter-final to look forward to - it would be typical if they finally return to Wembley with no fans present.

Fixtures: June 21st Sheffield United (h) 2pm (Sky Sports), June 24th Aston Villa (h) 6pm (BT Sport), July 1st Bournemouth (a) 6pm (Sky Sports) TBC West Ham (h), Man City (a), Watford (a), Tottenham (h), Brighton (a), Liverpool (h).

Norwich City (20th)

Norwich City looked set for a swift return to the Championship - they head into the restart rock bottom and six points adrift of safety. Daniel Farke’s side have some winnable games, however.

Key player: Teemu Pukki burst out of the gates before fading - he needs to rediscover his early season form if the Canaries are to have any chance of staying up.

Something for Stephen Kenny: The delayed European Championships could work in Ireland’s favour, with the likes of 19-year-old striker Adam Idah afforded another year to develop and push for a place.

Hopes for the run-in: Avoiding the drop from this position would be miraculous – they also have the chance to shock Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

Fixtures: June 19th Southampton (h) 6pm (Sky Sports), June 24th Everton (h) 6pm (BBC), July 1st Arsenal (a) 6pm (BT Sport) TBC Brighton (h), Watford (a), West Ham (h), Chelsea (a), Burnley (h), Man City (a).

Sheffield United (7th)

Sheffield United play Aston Villa in the Premier League’s first game back - victory would see them move into fifth and throw themselves into the mix for an improbable Champions League spot.

Key player: Man United loanee Dean Henderson was due to return to Old Trafford at the end of the season - the Blades look set to retain his services for the restart.

Something for Stephen Kenny: John Egan and Enda Stevens have brought an Irish twist to a defence made of Sheffield steel - the Blades have conceded 25 goals in 28 games.

Hopes for the run-in: Picking up where they left off and regaining momentum could be tricky but Chris Wilder’s side look on course for Europe.

Fixtures: June 17th Aston Villa (a) 6pm (Sky Sports), June 21st Newcastle United (a) 2pm (Sky Sports), June 24th Man United (a) 6pm (Sky Sports), July 2nd Tottenham (h) 6pm (Sky Sports), Burnley (a), Wolves (h), Chelsea (h), Leicester (a), Everton (h).

Enda Stevens has been a key part of Sheffield United’s impressive season. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty
Enda Stevens has been a key part of Sheffield United’s impressive season. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty

Southampton (14th)

Ralph Hassenhuttl’s Southampton vision is starting to take shape and the Austrian recently signed a new four-year deal. The Saints are safe from the drop.

Key player: Danny Ings scored 15 goals before the season was disrupted. Captain Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s performances have put him in the reckoning for a big-money move.

Something for Stephen Kenny: Shane Long has found a new lease of life under Hassenhuttl, and recently signed a new two-year contract at St Mary’s.

Hopes for the run-in: With safety looking assured Hassenhuttl will see the remainder of the season as a chance to further embed his philosophy on the south coast.

Fixtures: June 19th Southampton (a) 6pm (Sky Sports), June 25th Arsenal (h) 6pm (Sky Sports), June 28th Watford (a) 4.30pm (Sky Sports) TBC Man City (h), Everton (a), Man United (a), Brighton (h), Bournemouth (a), Sheffield United (h).

Tottenham Hotspur (8th)

It has been a tough season for Spurs, who couldn’t even muster a bounce after swapping Mauricio Pochettino for Jose Mourinho. Their opening clash with Man United is intriguing.

Key player: After recovering from a broken arm Son Heung-Min went straight into military service in Korea in April - he’s now fully fit and could spark a Spurs recovery.

Lockdown loser: An honourable mention to Serge Aurier, who broke lockdown an impressive three times, but Dele Alli’s one match ban for appearing to mock an Asian man in February is as dumb as it gets.

Hopes for the run-in: A victory over Man United on Friday could provide a springboard for a strong finish but a Champions League place look beyond Spurs this time.

Fixtures: June 19th Manr United (h) 8.15pm (Sky Sports), June 23rd West Ham (h) 8.15pm (Sky Sports), July 2nd Sheffield United (a) 6pm (Sky Sports) TBC Everton (a), Bournemouth (a), Arsenal (h), Newcastle (a), Leicester (h), Crystal Palace (a).

Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham have work to do in order to secure a Champions League spot. Photograph: Alex Morton/Getty
Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham have work to do in order to secure a Champions League spot. Photograph: Alex Morton/Getty

Watford (17th)

Watford’s renaissance under Nigel Pearson saw them beat Liverpool 3-0 at the start of March and move out of the relegation zone - the Hornets have every chance of survival.

Key player: 22-year-old forward Ismaila Sarr has impressed while Danny Welbeck could prove a useful asset during the run-in, providing he can stay fit.

Lockdown hero: Troy Deeney has been a great ambassador for Watford during the crisis and was at the heart of the #PlayersTogether initiative.

Hopes for the run-in: Things are very tight at the bottom - Pearson’s side have shown they can take on the big boys but they need to take points off those around them as well.

Fixtures: June 20th Leicester (h) 12.30pm (BT Sport), June 25th Burnley (a) 6pm (Sky Sports), June 28th Southampton (h) 4.30pm (Sky Sports) TBC Chelsea (a), Norwich (h), Newcastle (h), West Ham (a), (Man City (h), Arsenal (a).

West Ham United (16th)

West Ham return to action with just nine fixtures to save themselves from an embarrassing relegation. Hosting Championship football at the London Stadium wasn’t part of the plan.

Key player: Consistent performers have been few and far between this season - if Sebastien Haller can stand up his goals could be crucial to the Hammers’ hopes.

Lockdown hero: Mark Noble was another Premier League captain to play a leading role in the #PlayersTogether initiative, and he made a £35,000 donation to vulnerable people at the start of lockdown.

Hopes for the run-in: It’s hard to escape the impression West Ham would have preferred to scrap the season rather than complete it - the unpopular appointment of David Moyes would just about be justified if they survive.

Fixtures: June 20th Wolves (a) 5.30pm (Sky Sports), June 23rd Tottenham (a) 8,15pm (Sky Sport), July 1st Chelsea (a) 8.15pm (Sky Sports) TBC Newcastle (a), Burnley (h), Norwich (a), Watford (h), Man United (a), Aston Villa (h).

Wolverhampton Wanderers (6th)

Wolves’ epic season started nearly a year ago last July – they are still fighting on two fronts, having impressed in the Europa League as well as domestically.

Key player: Raul Jimenez is emerging into an elite centre-forward – he scored 22 goals in 44 appearances across all competitions before the season was postponed.

Matt Doherty scores for Wolves away to Tottenham on March 1st. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty
Matt Doherty scores for Wolves away to Tottenham on March 1st. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty

Something for Stephen Kenny: Ireland’s new era will surely mean a prominent role for Matt Doherty, who has consistently produced at the highest level of any current Irish player.

Hopes for the run-in: It is hard to tell if the coronavirus crisis will have killed Wolves’ momentum, or if the break will galvanise them further ahead of an intense run in.

Fixtures: June 20th West Ham (a) 5.30pm (Sky Sports), June 24th Bournemouth (h) 6pm (BT Sport), June 27th Aston Villa (a) 12.30pm (BT Sport) TBC Arsenal (h), Sheffield United (a), Everton (h), Burnley (a), Crystal Palace (h), Chelsea (a).

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