Premier League Restart | 10 Key Learnings
10 Key Learnings From The Premier League's Restart
The Premier League has kept TV audiences entertained with a number of scintillating clashes over the past few weeks. Project Restart began when Aston Villa held Sheff Utd to a draw at Villa Park on 17 June, and football fans have been treated to top-flight action almost every day since then. These are the 10 key things we have learned since the Premier League resumed:
Home Advantage Has Disappeared
Man Utd looked supremely comfortable as they eased to a 3-0 victory over Brighton at the Amex on Tuesday evening. The Seagulls normally benefit from a passionate home crowd roaring them on, but Man Utd capitalised on the lack of atmosphere inside the empty stadium and picked up a comfortable win. It was the 26th game since the season resumed, resulting in 10 home wins, six draws and 10 away wins. You normally see far more home victories than away wins, but the lack of fans inside the arenas has seemingly wiped out the concept of home advantage, following a trend seen in the Bundesliga and elsewhere.
Certain Players Thrive Off the Crowd
A few stars have suffered an alarming dip in form since the Premier League season resumed. Norwich's Teemu Pukki has looked off the pace without the crowd getting on his back. Joint top goalscorer Jamie Vardy is yet to score since the restart. Andy Carroll has a tendency to come across as thuggish without the Newcastle faithful protesting his innocence in clashes with defenders.
Clubs Flourish When the Pressure is Off
You might have expected the likes of Burnley and Southampton to struggle when the season resumed. After all, both clubs were languishing in mid-table, clear of any relegation fears but unlikely to challenge for a place in Europe, so they had little to play for. However, they have both been on fire since the restart, and Burnley are now in with a shot at securing Europa League football next season after securing back-to-back wins. Meanwhile, teams like Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Watford – all of whom are fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table – have struggled. It suggests that some teams are buckling under the pressure, while the likes of Burnley, Southampton, Newcastle, Everton and Crystal Palace are enjoying themselves, playing with freedom and picking up points.
Two-Goal Comebacks Are Off the Menu
No team has managed to rescue a point after going two goals behind in a Premier League game since the restart. It is apparently difficult to produce a stirring comeback without passionate supporters providing encouragement. If we look at all the games taking place in the Premier League, Championship, FA Cup and Football League playoffs, just one game has seen a two-goal comeback since games have been held behind closed doors. Birmingham went 2-0 down against Hull, pulled it back to 2-2 and eventually battled to a thrilling 3-3 draw. Yet that is the exception to the rule.
Lower Scoring Games
Before Wednesday’s fixtures kicked off there had been just 2.4 goals per game in the Premier League, which represents a significant dip. There have been a few high-scoring games, as Man City and Liverpool have dished out some thrashings, but on the whole there have been fewer goals since the restart and the games have been tighter. Managers are able to make five substitutions and there are drinks breaks, but overall a lot of players look tired due to the busy schedule and the heat.
Chelsea Backed to Finish Third
The Blues on the whole have had a positive start since the season resumed, despite a hammer blow at West Ham on Wednesday night. Frank Lampard is blessed with a large and talented squad, and competition for places is fierce, which has inspired the likes of Christian Pulisic and Ross Barkley to improve. Chelsea’s 2-1 victory over Man City was the best game we have seen since the season recommenced, and it should give Lampard confidence as he prepares for future challenges. Our traders now believe that Chelsea have what it takes to leapfrog Leicester in the table and sew up third place. Our Premier League points spread now forecasts that they will end the season with 65-66 points, while Leicester are on 64-65, Man Utd are on 64.5-65.5 and Wolves are on 61.5-62.5. With Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech set to join Chelsea soon, could they be title contenders next season?
Fernandes Ignites the Red Devils
Bruno Fernandes galvanised Man Utd’s squad when he joined in January, and his presence has reignited their push for a top four place. The Portuguese playmaker has simply picked up where he left off since the restart, banging in goals and pulling the strings for his team with aplomb. Paul Pogba is also firing on all cylinders, and Man Utd’s midfield looks terrific. They are in a similar position to Chelsea: they have a large squad, packed full of talented players, and a young manager that is keen to give emerging talent a chance. That has allowed Mason Greenwood to flourish since the season resumed, but Fernandes is very much the star of the show at Old Trafford now. Leicester will be nervously looking over their shoulders, as Man Utd are on the march. Leicester are currently priced at 1/1 to secure a top four finish in our Premier League odds, but Man Utd are now 1/2 and they are in fine form.
The Fairy-Tale Is Fading Away for Sheff Utd
The Blades were surging with momentum before the pandemic brought the season juddering to a halt. They took 10 points from four games before the break, leaving them in the hunt for a top four place. However, they have struggled badly since the restart. They were unfortunate to leave Villa Park with just a point on the first day back – Hawkeye was to blame for that fiasco – and they then lost 3-0 to Newcastle after John Egan was sent off. Man Utd crushed them at Old Trafford, and the Blades suffered a heartbreaking FA Cup quarter-final defeat against Arsenal to compound their misery. Our traders now predict they will finish tenth in the table. That would still be very respectable, considering they are a newly promoted side and they have not spent much money in recent transfer windows, but dreams of qualifying for Europe are fading fast.
Arsenal Set for Worst Finish Since 1995
Our Premier League points spread predicts that Arsenal will limp home in eighth place this season. That would be their worst finish since the 1994-95 season, which saw long-serving manager George Graham sacked for taking a bung, plunging the club into chaos. The situation has been equally chaotic this season, as Unai Emery was sacked when results went south, caretaker boss Freddie Ljungberg could not turn things around and Mikel Arteta was parachuted in to save the day. He sparked an improvement in results and performance levels, but Arsenal’s season resumed with back-to-back defeats against Man City and Brighton. They have since steadied the ship, but they have a number of injury problems and our traders predict they will finish behind Spurs once again.
Bad News for Aston Villa and Bournemouth
Changes at the bottom of the table have been relatively minimal. Brighton have impressed, taking four points from games against Arsenal and Leicester, and our traders believe they will ease clear of danger. West Ham's 3-2 victory over Chelsea could be massive in their bid for survival. Otherwise it is as you were, with Watford hovering just above 18th placed Bournemouth and 19th placed Aston Villa, and Norwich left well adrift after they were thrashed 4-0 by Arsenal. These relegation threatened teams have all struggled to pick up results, and our traders now reckon that 35 points could be enough to secure safety. They project West Ham to secure 38-39, Watford to earn 34-35.5, Aston Villa to take 31.5-32.5 and Bournemouth to secure just 30.5-31.5, leaving Villa, Bournemouth and Norwich to be relegated.
If you think any of those teams can beat the drop, check out the Premier League points spread and grab a stake in the action.