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 7 of our Premier League restart preview looking at Sheffield United and West Ham United.
First game back: Aston Villa v Sheffield United
Chris Wilder. Not the trendiest fella in the world, is he? He’s one of those that goes under the radar but he deserves a heck of a lot of recognition for the incredible job he’s done at Bramall Lane. Perhaps if he changed his name to something a little more foreign, Christophe Wild maybe, he’d be spoken about more highly? No, that’s silly. It’s almost as silly as tipping them to finish in the top four.
But they have every chance of accomplishing such a feat in their first season back in top flight footsie. Wilder’s guided the Blades up to 7th in the table and they have a game in hand over the three teams in front of them and if they win it, it puts them just two points off Chelsea. Imagine Sheffield Utd competing in next season’s Champions League! They’re also into the last eight of the FA Cup where they will take on Arsenal. Yep, pat on the back for, Christophe.
West Ham United
First game back: West Ham v Wolves
Defender Fabian Balbuena has had a tough start to life at West Ham and the latest rumours doing the rounds are that he has nine games left to save his career. Boss David Moyes has preferred the partnership of Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna — who should be back from injury — at the heart of the defence with 28-year-old Balbuena stuck on the bench for the last eight league matches.
It seems West Ham will listen to offers, whether they stave off relegation or not. Ogbonna has been a fixture in Moyes’ back-line and if he looks set to start against Wolverhampton Wanderers at the London Stadium on Friday June 18. Fellow defender Aaron Cresswell and attacker Michail Antonio have been fighting niggles too but are expected to return to action. West Ham are still looking over their shoulder; they have the same number of points as relegation zone occupants Bournemouth, but Moyes has rescued The Irons before — can he do it again?