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 9 of our Premier League restart preview looking at Burnley and Watford.
First game back: Manchester City v Burnley
Burnley will want to pick up where they left off when the action restarts as Sean Dyche’s men were on a fine run of form before the suspension kicked in. Having been unbeaten in seven top flight fixtures — with Dyche winning the manager of the month award for February — they have pulled clear of the relegation places with a healthy 12 point buffer which puts them comfortably in mid table.
One more point will get them to the magic 40 mark to all but guarantee safety but such is the table this season that if they continue their solid form, they too could be looking at a European spot. Currently 10th in the table and just six points off Manchester United in fifth, it’s there for them that’s for sure. They’ll be facing teams in both ends of the table in their run in and it will be interesting to see where they eventually finish. Watch this space.
First game back: Watford v Leicester City
According to a recent survey, Watford fans do not want the 2019/20 Premier League season to be restarted — and they want relegation to be scrapped. That’s not surprising — they currently have the same number of points as Bournemouth and are only out of the bottom three due to a slightly superior goal difference. But, ever since Nigel Pearson — the club’s third head coach of the campaign — took charge of the Hornets, there has been a huge improvement in performances.
Remember, they emphatically shattered Liverpool’s unbeaten run with a 3-0 home hammering and do have a goal threat up front. Captain and target man Troy Deeney will be key to their survival hopes and they’ll be looking to make life very uncomfortable for those visiting Vicarage Road between now and the end of the season. Indeed, their home form will determine whether or not they stay up but with tricky fixtures against the likes of Leicester City, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal to come, their Premier League status is far from certain.