As sports slowly begin to return to television, the ones earliest to resume play will receive unprecedented attention, but that doesn’t mean people necessarily will know anything about what they’re watching. And for those tuning in for the first time, NESN is here to inform and educate you about the leagues’ biggest storylines, athletes and how to tune in to their return or postponed start.
The Premier League soon will give the soccer world something to discuss in unison.
The world’s richest and most-watched domestic soccer league will resume its 2019-20 season Wednesday with two games: Aston Villa-Sheffield United and Manchester City-Arsenal. The Premier League suspended play March 13, and these contests will be the first of 92 games in England’s top flight that will take place between now and July 26, the last day of the campaign.
State of play
Thanks to the 25-point lead it amassed before the pause, Liverpool can clinch the Premier League title with two more wins or even sooner if second-place Manchester City drops points against Arsenal in its return game. Although the Reds’ muted title celebrations will be “strange” due to the absence of their fans, no one will question their worthiness as champions … at least with a straight face.
Manchester City’s looming ban from the UEFA Champions League raises the prospect of the third- through fifth-place finishers in the Premier League qualifying for European soccer’s elite competition next season. Leicester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Wolves and Sheffield United all are either in or within striking distance of those lucrative spots.
Meanwhile, Norwich City, Aston Villa and Bournemouth occupy the three relegation places, but Watford, West Ham and Brighton could find themselves in those perilous positions if they continue to struggle.
Players to watch
The Premier League is chock-full of stars. Here are a few to focus on after the restart:
Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy leads the Premier League with 19 goals. At age 33, Vardy might become the oldest Golden Boot winner in Premier League history.
Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is second with 17 goals. He’ll enter the last year of his contract after this season, and rumors about his future probably will make as many headlines as his Golden Boot race with Vardy and others.
Injuries have limited Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba to just seven Premier League appearances this season. He should be healthy after the long break, and how well he partners with new teammate Bruno Fernandes might determine where the Red Devils finish in the standings and where the FIFA World Cup winning midfielder plays next season and beyond.
Liverpool’s three-pronged forward line is perhaps the best in the world, and fans should do themselves a favor and watch how Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah combine with devastating effect.
This week’s games (all times ET)
1 p.m. — Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United
3:15 p.m. — Manchester City vs. Arsenal
1 p.m. — Norwich City vs. Southampton
3:15 p.m. — Tottenham vs. Manchester United
7:30 a.m. — Watford vs. Leicester City
10 a.m. — Brighton vs. Arsenal
12:30 p.m. — West Ham vs. Wolves
2:45 p.m. — Bournemouth vs. Crystal Palace
9 a.m. — Newcastle vs. Sheffield United
11:15 a.m. — Aston Villa vs. Chelsea
2 p.m. — Everton vs. Liverpool
3 p.m. — Manchester City vs. Burnley
Thumbnail photo via LiverpoolFC.com