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. However, it will be a pretty different type of football from what we’re used to seeing. For instance, Fifa has allowed leagues to temporarily change their rules to allow five substitutes in an attempt to reduce the risk of injuries while games will be played behind closed doors and with social-distancing rules in place. Here’s part 6 of our Premier League restart preview looking at Wolverhampton Wanderers and Newcastle United.
First game back: West Ham v Wolves
The hairy Nuno Espirito Santo isn’t just a brilliant coach, he’s darn good at coining catchy phrases, too. Look at this gem; “The strength of the wolf is in the pack”. He’s a modern day Shakes-beard! He’s been at Wolves for three years and transformed the club giving fans plenty to shout about along the way with a string of fabulous performances and overseeing the development of several highly promising young stars. But, with Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez rumoured to be heading to Liverpool and Manchester United respectively, not even the most hopeful of fans would expect Nuno to stick around.
The talented boss is destined for bigger things — but there’s every chance he’ll leave the club with a fairy-tale finish. When the Premier League resumes, fourth place will be up for grabs and with only 1 fixture against a team in the top five to come in their last nine games and injured pair Jonny Castro Otto and Morgan Gibbs-White back to boost the squad, Wolves look well placed to gate-crash the Champions League.
First game back: Newcastle United v Sheffield United
Some consider him to be the worst signing of the Premier League era and most have written him off but the pressure is well and truly on for £40m flop Joelinton to come good for Newcastle United and get them away from trouble and into mid-table safety. Newcastle shattered their transfer record for the striker who has only scored three goals — and he hasn’t has much impact in creating many chances. The misfit has been very poor value for money for the Toon Army and there were few signs things were improving for him before the league was suspended. And with the latest news being that fans favourite Matty Longstaff looks set to leave, Newcastle supporters aren’t happy. But, when are they ever?
Maybe the rumoured Saudi-backed £300m takeover led by Amanda Staveley will prove the turning point because after 13 years of underachievement under Mike Ashley’s helm, it’s high time for a change. There is some good news — Andy Carroll is now injury-free and ready to play his part in the Magpies run-in. The striker is in line for a key role when Newcastle resume their campaign against Sheffield United at St James’ Park later this month. The former England man has been sidelined since January but boss Steve Bruce will be relieved to have his talisman back.