What our experts are looking forward to as Premier League returns

Kane and Pogba fit again, Jamie Vardy’s century of goals, no home advantage, an exciting FA Cup, Liverpool’s title and absolute chaos at the bottom… what our experts are looking forward to most as the Premier League returns

  • The Premier League returns on Wednesday evening after three months away
  • There now follows a madcap six week schedule to complete the league season
  • Top four and relegation battles will be fascinating with added chaos thrown in
  • Many teams will welcome back injured players but now face hectic schedule
  • Home advantage may become a thing of the past with stadiums empty
  • Financial risk of suffering relegation is greater than ever amid Covid-19 crisis 

The waiting is finally over. Premier League football returns on Wednesday night after a three-month break and we couldn’t be more excited. 

Yes, it won’t look quite the same and the title race is all but over but we’re set for a thrilling climax to the season with intrigue in the top-four race and relegation battle.

Plus nobody knows quite what unknown factors will be thrown up by such a hectic schedule and empty stadiums.

Ahead of the Premier League’s return, our reporters let us know what they’re looking forward to the most and offer their predictions. 

Manchester City vs Arsenal is Wednesday night’s highlight as the Premier League returns

Ian Ladyman

I am looking forward to seeing Liverpool win the Premier League. To have seen one of the great club seasons ended before Jurgen Klopp’s team had actually crossed the line would have been the saddest of sporting injustices. 

Liverpool deserve to be able to say they were the champions. They didn’t deserve to have an asterisk next to their achievement for ever more. 

They deserve to be recognised as the champions and, what’s more, as one of the more imperious and impressive and watchable champions of recent years. 

Liverpool can do that now and they will do that. It feels right.

Positions 1-5: Liverpool, Man City, Leicester, Chelsea, Man United

Relegated: Brighton, Aston Villa, Norwich FA Cup: Manchester City

Champions League: Bayern Munich Europa League: Sevilla

Liverpool could seal their first league title in three decades as early as this Sunday evening

Joe Bernstein

It’s very rare that 99 per cent of the top players are fit and ready for action. 

Compared to pre-lockdown, we can now welcome back Harry Kane, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, David Brooks, Aymeric Laporte, John McGinn, Son Heung-min and others. 

There will be a lot of games in a short space of time but at least clubs have virtually fully-fit squads to choose from. 

It is incredibly rare to have team news without five or six players per club missing so we should enjoy seeing all the big names out there.

Positions 1-5: Liverpool, Man City, Leicester, Chelsea, Man United

Relegated: Bournemouth, Watford, Norwich FA Cup: Sheffield United

Champions League: Paris Saint-Germain Europa League: Manchester United

Tottenham’s star man Harry Kane is fit and firing again following his hamstring injury

Paul Pogba is also back from injury to bolster Manchester United’s top four ambitions

Matt Barlow

I’m looking forward to the FA Cup. It’s beautifully poised and I’m delighted the competition will be played to a finish. 

There are eight strong teams remaining. Four of the modern heavyweights and four Premier League teams who are starved of success in the FA Cup. 

Can Leicester lift the trophy for the first time? Will Newcastle (who last won it in 1955) produce a shock against Manchester City? 

Can Norwich (never won it) upset Manchester United and reach the last four for the first time since 1992? Could Sheffield United (last won in 1925) add cup success to this brilliant first season back at the top level?

The more established teams are all away from home in the quarter-finals and, yes, it is a great shame the fans can’t be there because the FA Cup at the business end is about those special memories and trips to Wembley for supporters. 

But the knock-out factor will add tension and urgency to these ties which will be absent from many of the Premier League fixtures about to be played behind closed doors.

Positions 1-5: Liverpool, Man City, Leicester, Man United, Chelsea

Relegated: Brighton, Aston Villa, Norwich FA Cup: Man City

Champions League: Atletico Madrid Europa League: Man United

Sheffield United are flying in the league and still in the FA Cup having beaten Reading in the fifth round back in March

Tom Collomosse

Jamie Vardy reaching 100 Premier League goals. The Leicester striker is 99 not out, having struck twice in the Foxes’ 4-0 win over Aston Villa on March 9, the final game before the competition was suspended. 

Vardy’s story is one of the most remarkable in modern football – in June 2010, he was completing a £15,000 move from Stocksbridge Park Steels to Halifax Town and did not make his Football League debut until he was 25. 

Four years later, Vardy was a Premier League champion and even though he turns 34 in January, he is one of the forwards that top-flight defenders fear the most. 

His imminent century should give hope to non-league footballers everywhere.

Positions 1-5: Liverpool, Man City, Leicester, Man United, Chelsea

Relegated: West Ham, Watford, Bournemouth FA Cup: Leicester City

Champions League: Bayern Munich Europa League: Wolves

Jamie Vardy needs just one more goal to make it a century for Leicester in the Premier League

Dominic King

It is not going to be football as we know it, in terms of the spectacle and the tradition and the noise, but at least football is back. 

And, of course, that means the debating and the arguments and the conjecture will return. 

After months of uncertainty and worry, it will be good to have a diversion. There were so many loose strands when the hiatus came in March, it will be intriguing to see how they are all wrapped up in the coming weeks. 

This should have been a summer of wall-to-wall football with the European Championships. It might not be what we anticipated but at least it is here again.

Positions 1-5: Liverpool, Man City, Leicester, Man United, Chelsea

Relegated: Brighton, Bournemouth, Norwich FA Cup: Man City

Champions League: Bayern Munich Europa League: Inter Milan

Liverpool are on the brink of making history following a season of dominance in the league

Craig Hope

After three months of lockdown with a young family, some peace and quiet inside an empty stadium… 

On a footballing level, I’m fascinated by the prospect of away teams having an advantage.

Sportsmail columnist Mark Clattenburg says from his experience he feels the away team benefit from playing behind closed doors and results in Germany support that. 

I think the restart will throw up some unexpected outcomes and could really mix things up, especially at the bottom of the table.

Positions 1-5: Liverpool, Man City, Leicester, Man United, Chelsea

Relegated: West Ham, Watford, Norwich FA Cup: Man City

Champions League: Bayern Munich Europa League: Man United

In Germany, where Bayern Munich are champions again, home advantage has been reduced

Jack Gaughan

It’ll be interesting to see whether home advantage completely goes out of the window – as we’ve seen in the Bundesliga. 

Hopefully that could make for some fascinating games that you might ordinarily give a swerve when they’re on the TV. 

West Ham at Tottenham and Bournemouth going away to Wolves might provide good indicators of a possible home curse next week. 

Aside from that, and this is a bit geeky, I am a sucker for pristinely presented football stadiums in the sun. The little details of a ground will be more pronounced inside an empty stadium.

Positions 1-5: Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea, Leicester, Man United 

Relegated: Brighton, West Ham, Norwich FA Cup: Manchester City

Champions League: Bayern Munich Europa League: Bayer Leverkusen

Could relegation-threatened Bournemouth spring a surprise when they travel to Wolves?

Kieran Gill

I’m just pleased the Premier League and the debates that come with it are back. 

But I’m particularly looking forward to seeing how players celebrate their goals. I suspect a fair few will be poignant, shining a light on the Black Lives Matter movement now that the Premier League have said players can take a knee. 

We may see some outside-of-the-box ones, too – I’m sure West Ham’s Michail Antonio has a quirky one up his sleeve.

Positions 1-5: Liverpool, Man City, Leicester, Chelsea, Wolves

Relegated: Watford, Aston Villa, Norwich FA Cup: Leicester City

Champions League: Bayern Munich Europa League: Inter Milan 

West Ham’s Michail Antonio in action during a restart friendly game against Crystal Palace

Mike Keegan

This may not be the bandwagon thing to say but I am not massively excited, to be honest. I realise I am in a minority, that some are desperate for football to come back and that as a sports journalist I should be welcoming its return. 

However, I think it may well be a huge anti-climax, with a lot of meaningless matches played in empty stadiums. 

And I will not be able to watch the relegation battle without the nagging feeling that, regardless of what happens on the pitch, the outcome may well be decided in court. 

That said, it will be good to see Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp rewarded for an amazing season, and the Champions League at least promises to be competitive.

Positions 1-5: Liverpool, Man City, Leicester, Chelsea, Man United

Relegated: Bournemouth, Brighton, Norwich FA Cup: Man City

Champions League: Bayern Munich Europa League: Man United

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool look set to receive their reward for a truly remarkable season

Daniel Matthews

The race to avoid the drop over the next few weeks promises to be horrific for those involved, but fascinating for the rest of us.

With six teams separated by only eight points, it was perfectly set up even before this prolonged break. 

Now? Carnage. With nine games left, the price of falling out of the top-flight has spiralled even further. 

The benefits of home advantage seemed to have disappeared, if Germany tells us anything. Teams have had three months to dwell on the task ahead and must now hit the ground running once more. 

Suddenly Norwich, six points from safety, don’t seem so cut adrift. Not with the chaos to come.

Positions 1-5: Liverpool, Man City, Leicester, Man United, Chelsea

Relegated: Brighton, Aston Villa, Norwich FA Cup: Man City

Champions League: Bayern Munich Europa League: Inter Milan

Even Norwich in last position will feel renewed confidence amid a chaotic relegation fight




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