For good or for bad, the Premier League is back. Sure, its return has been questioned comprehensively and the arguments look set to continue in the weeks and months ahead. Suspended since mid-March due to COVID-19, the season is set to resume on June 17. Here’s part 2 of our Premier League restart preview looking at Arsenal and Southampton …
First game back: Manchester City v Arsenal
Here we go again. Arsenal overhyped, again. Arsenal flattering to deceive, again. Under Arsene Wenger, you would always find them playing with a swagger and be seated comfortably in the top four with only a handful of games left — but those days are long gone. We’re now used to the Gunners firing blanks.
Having taken over from Unai Emery and after a difficult start, new head coach Mikel Arteta has seen an upturn in form. They’ve been unbeaten since the middle of December not that that’s helped the cause too much — it’s only got them up to ninth.
Before the COVID-19 suspension they beat a woeful West Ham 1-0 with an Alexandre Lacazette goal and even though this team needs a lot of work, with games against the likes of Brighton, Aston Villa and Norwich coming up they should finish the campaign in a far healthier position. They’re out of the Europa League but are still in the FA Cup where they’ll meet Sheffield United in the quarter-finals.
First game back: Norwich City v Southampton
Ralph Hasenhuttl has had a mixed bag of results as Southampton boss which have included some mega hidings. Who will ever forget that 9-0 home demolition by Leicester earlier in the season? Not Saints fans but somehow, he’s been rewarded with a new four-year contract at St Marys. Explain that?!
Ok, the run of seven wins from 11 games following that thrashing from late November to January might have had something to do with it. But, Southampton are currently just seven points above the relegation zone and with nine games to go, Hasenhuttl will be demanding his young side implement his high-pressing style of play if they are to avoid the dreaded drop.
“I think it’s normal that there are more important things around us than football to focus on and then it’s not so easy to bring the focus back on the pitch if you need to,” he said. Rousing. That’ll get them playing, Ralph …