Nine matchdays remain in the English Premier League when the action resumes on June 17 as the world’s most watched football league gets back onto the pitch. By the time Manchester City and Arsenal clash at the Etihad Stadium, over three months will have paced between Premier League fixtures. The division still has 92 matches in total to play with games finishing on July 26.
Liverpool are nearing their first league championship since the 1989-90 season. Not even a world-wide pandemic could stop Jurgen Klopp’s team. Although the title is within touching distance, the Reds may be forced to wait a few more weeks to finally lift the trophy.
While fans have known the Reds will lift the title for some time, there are still plenty of questions around the European places and the relegation race. Nine matchdays are to be played and following the Covid-19 hiatus, almost anything can happen.
When will Liverpool win the title?
Liverpool need just six points to lift the league title for the first time in 30 years. The Reds could be crowned Premier League champions as early as their first match back from the Covid-19 break against Everton. Klopp’s team will need some help from Arsenal for that to happen, however.
Manchester City face off with Arsenal on the league’s first night back (June 17). If Arsenal defeat Manchester City away at the Etihad, then Liverpool’s magic number to the title is down to just three points, which could come at Goodison Park on June 21. Right now, Liverpool’s wait for the title is a numbers game and the trophy could come in the next two weeks.
Liverpool will host Crystal Palace after their trip across Stanley Park to play Everton. Depending on results, the Reds could even lift the title at the Etihad when they face off with Manchester City on July 2. Surely there is a large contingent of Liverpool supporters that would love to see the team win the championship at Manchester City to further the growing rivalry between the two best teams in English football.
Who will qualify for Europe?
Manchester City have started their appeal against UEFA’s Financial Fair Play ban. The club were found guilty of overspending and cooking the books forcing UEFA to hand down a two-year ban from the Champions League and a £25 million fine. Although the ban could be overturned by the CAS (and don’t be surprised if it is), there could be a Champions League place up for grabs.
Pep Guardiola’s team are currently second in the league, but if the ban is upheld, their Champions League qualification will go to the team that finishes in fifth place. Right now, that spot would transfer to Manchester United.
Seven teams have a shot at finishing fifth with some of those clubs possessing more realistic chances of accomplishing the feat. Wolverhampton Wanderers, Sheffield United, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Burnley, and Crystal Palace are all within six points of the Red Devils. Spurs are four points back of the fifth-place position, however, thanks to the return of striker Harry Kane from injury, could be the most likely to finish in the top five.
Wolverhampton Wanderers will be tough to hold off as well. Nuno Espirito Santo’s team have benefitted from the break getting their fitness. The team had started the 2019-20 season last July in the Europa League qualifiers and before the Premier League’s hiatus, were struggling with fatigue. With teams rested and injury-free, don’t be surprised to see Manchester United wither and lose out on fifth.
Who will be relegated to the EFL Championship?
Twenty-seven points are still up for grabs in the race for Premier League survival. All three teams in the relegation zone still have a shot at staying in the division for another campaign. Norwich City are the league’s bottom dwellers currently with 21 points, six behind 17th-placed Watford.
Joining Norwich City in the fight for Premier League survival are Aston Villa (25 points) and Bournemouth (27 points). Brighton, West Ham, and Watford are not out of the woodwork, and just eight points separate the 15th-placed Seagulls with last-placed Norwich City.
Survival will be determined by whichever team gets hot in the final nine matches of the campaign. None of the six teams fighting for safety were in-form when the league went on hiatus. Five of the six teams lost their match before the break with Brighton being the only side to gain a positive result – a goalless draw versus Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Looking at the Premier League form table, Bournemouth were the best of a bad bunch collecting seven points from their last 18 possible. Having had a more than three-month break, form goes out the window and teams will need to start fresh. The return will resemble a playoff with each team having nine games to rescue their campaign.
There is a caveat to the relegation race. Aston Villa have a game in-hand which will be played on June 17 against Sheffield United at Villa Park. If the Villains can gain all three points; it could be the difference between returning to the EFL Championship and remaining in the Premier League for a second straight campaign.