Premier League returns: All you need to know

From the new safety protocols to a virtual matchday experience, here's everything you need to know ahead of the Premier League's return on June 17.

Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah's Liverpool needs two more wins to claim its first Premier League in 30 years.   -  Getty Images

It hasn’t been a smooth process but here we are. The much-awaited return of the Premier League is slated for Wednesday after a 100-day lay-off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With the United Kingdom among the worst-hit nations by the virus in Europe, there were doubts regarding the fate and status of the 2019-20 season.

Meetings between the league and the clubs across April and May led to the ‘Project Restart’ idea which would see the competition play out the remaining 92 fixtures. Those plans initially came under threat in May due to the reported division among the 20 top division clubs, with the parties protecting their own interests, the German Bundesliga was gearing up for action.

 

It was reported that the bottom six clubs in the points table, fearing relegation, were proving to be a stumbling block for the return of the league.

There were talks of completing the league in neutral venues to avoid fans congregating outside the stadiums and to reduce the medical, police, security and broadcast personnel required. But it has since been decided that every team’s home matches will be fulfilled at their respective stadiums.

After a phased return to training, both individual and group, several coronavirus tests, the setting of various protocols and clearing the government published guidelines, the Premier League will return on June 17.

What’s at stake?

It’s a matter of when Liverpool will wrap its first top-flight title in 30 years. Two wins will do the job but it will have to do so without its supporters as the matches will be held behind closed doors. While Manchester City can only solidify the second spot when the campaign resumes, the club can use the lessons from the new normal in the league when it turns its attention towards the cup competitions.

RELATED

How Liverpool conquered the FIFA Club World Cup

Premier League to restart season on June 17

Premier League faces COVID-19 impact despite clubs posting record revenue

First batch of Premier League fixtures for restart

Protocols for players and teams to follow

Premier League games that could decide the title, relegation and European qualification

Before the season came to a halt, there remained a real possibility that Leicester City would slip away from the top-four – managing just three wins in nine matches since the turn of the year. Can Brendan Rodgers rally his men with just nine remaining in the season to lead them to a UEFA Champions League place?

The most intriguing battles will be for the European places – Champions League and Europa League – with just eight points separating fourth-placed Chelsea and Arsenal in ninth. Manchester United, Sheffield United, Wolves and Tottenham Hotspur are the other teams in contention for the remaining one Champions League and three Europa League spots. There is also the matter of City's appeal against its two-year UEFA ban.

With most teams having a fully-fit squad, the final stretch of games will make for a competitive affair. The key fixture in fight for the top-four place could be the opening week's Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester United. A win for United could give it the advantage in the run in ahead of Chelsea and fellow rivals.

At the other end of the table, Brighton and Hove Albion, West Ham United, Watford, Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City will be hoping they aren’t among the three teams to go down to the EFL Championship at the end of the season.

Newcastle United, which is on the verge of a takeover from Saudi Arabia-led consortium, will hope it doesn't drop from its 13th place into the relegation battle. Watford will be boosted by the return of its captain and top-scorer Troy Deeney, who had initially stayed away from training due to concerns over contracting the virus.

Aston Villa will bank on its captain Jack Grealish and midfielder John McGinn, who returns from a fractured ankle, to lead the club to safety.

How the action will resume?

As mentioned earlier, all matches will be played behind closed with only a maximum of 300 people allowed inside the stadiums. Teams will be allowed to make five substitutions and have nine players on the bench to choose from until the end of the season. To avoid too many stoppages in play, each team will still only have three opportunities to make the changes as well as at half-time.

As part of the health protocol in place, players have been asked not to shake hands, spit on the pitch or share drinks. Only 110 people will be allowed near the field of play and will be required to return a negative COVID-19 test result in the previous five days as part of the medical passport provided to them for entry into the stadiums. They include players, coaches, medical staff, match officials, pitch technicians and Hawk-eye personnel for goal-line and video replay technology.

The substitutes and coaching staff will not wear masks while on the sidelines after the Bundesliga adopted a relaxed approach last week.

For enhanced TV viewing, the Premier League will use pre-recorded crowd noises supplied by Electronic Arts’ FIFA game.

Opening week fixtures (All timings in IST)

Wednesday, June 17: Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United (10.30 pm)

Thursday, June 18: Manchester City vs. Arsenal (12.45 am)

Friday, June 19: Norwich vs. Southampton (10.30 pm)

Saturday, June 20: Tottenham vs. Manchester United (12.45 am), Watford vs. Leicester (5 pm), Brighton vs. Arsenal (7.30 pm), West Ham vs. Wolverhampton (10 pm)

Sunday, June 21: Bournemouth vs. Crystal Palace (12.15 am) Newcastle vs. Sheffield United (6.30 pm), Aston Villa vs. Chelsea (8.45 pm), Everton vs. Liverpool (11.30 pm)

All matches will be live on the Star Sports network and streamed on Hotstar.

  Dugout videos