Project Restart Update

3rd June 2020

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The Premier League has confirmed it will return on June 17th when Manchester City will play Arsenal and Aston Villa will take on Sheffield United. To many fans the restarting of the league will be a relief although all matches of course will be played behind closed doors.

Cynics have pointed out that these two fixtures will mean that every club will have played 29 games and if the league needs to be suspended again then the FA can at least turn round and say that all clubs have played the same number of matches and a points per game approach may be used to finish the league. But we are getting too far ahead of ourselves and hopefully much like the German Bundesliga when the league returns it will be able to continue.

What we have seen from the Bundesliga has been bad news for home teams. In Germany home teams were winning on average 46% of games in their stadiums, but since fans cannot come to games, that stat has dropped to just 18%. This seems to prove that 'home advantage' really isn't a myth, which has been claimed by some, and that fans really can act like the twelfth man. Anyone that has been to an intensely competitive fixture would have known this beforehand. However it is interesting to see that it seems to be the major factor.

If all goes well on June 17th then 3 days later there will be all 10 fixtures historically played on a 3pm on a Saturday- a throwback to football from a couple of generations ago. Matches will be shown live which will also be a first given how there has been a blanket ban on showing Saturday 3pm games live. There are also rumours that television broadcasters will have more access in games, and this could well include some players being interviewed at half time. The Covid-19 virus has certainly changed the world and football has had to adapt to that.

As for Liverpool and their league title bid, the club have had to wait for the title, which could have been theirs in April the way the league was going. The club have had to deal with the stress that the league at one point could have been voided. Of course they have waited 30 years for this, so what is another 3 months? And if Arsenal were to beat Manchester City on June 17th then all Liverpool would need to do the following weekend is beat Everton at Goodison Park. How ironic would that be for the club that it would come down to beating their rivals on their home turf? An absolute nightmare for Everton fans, with them in attendance we could have witnessed quite a game, without fans though and this is the core problem of a return, matches may just seem hollow.

At the end of the day no club is going to stop Liverpool winning the title, but when it happens, maybe against Everton or against Crystal Palace at Anfield the week after, it will be a strange moment for the club who have worked so hard not to be able to celebrate with fans. The club seem very bullish that fans will not congregate outside the stadium but with the government easing lockdown it seems inevitable that fans will indeed flock the streets.

 

Transfer News

Despite some of the major leagues having to stop, transfer news hasn't. Regarding Premier Leagues clubs one story that may have gone under the radar when Covid-19 hit was Newcastle's Matty Longstaff very close to joining Serie A team Udinese. The transfer had actually got as far as Longstaff flying out to Italy in March. It will be interesting to see if Longstaff takes the deal further. Manchester United have agreed to extend Odion Ighalo's loan from Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua. All eyes are on Jadon Sancho who has started the restarted German league in fine form. The three clubs interested in his signature are Manchester United, Chelsea and Real Madrid. Finally PSG have signed Mauro Icardi from Inter Milan for £51m. Icardi had impressed in Paris when he was taken on loan this season and had scored 20 goals in all competitions from 31 games.

 



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