There’s less than a week to go now until the resumption of the Premier League season.
Next Wednesday, exactly 100 days since Leicester City dispatched Aston Villa in the last top-flight game played in England, the Villans will host Sheffield United as football gets back on track after the COVID-19 suspension.
With no fans allowed in stadiums and strict protocols having to be adhered to by players and staff, it’ll be a different sport to what we’re used to.
But we’re still hugely excited about the return of football and, especially, United – here’s seven reasons why!
1. RASHFORD’S BACK
One of the most encouraging elements of our recent return to training has been seeing our leading goalscorer Marcus Rashford back in action. The 22-year-old was originally slated to miss much of the remainder of the campaign after injuring his back in mid-January but, assuming he’s come through his return to first-team training okay, he should now play a major part in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans.
2. AND SO IS POGBA!
The same goes for Paul Pogba, who hasn’t appeared for the Reds since Boxing Day. The Frenchman was close to a first-team return in March but should now be fighting fit after playing a full part in our recent inter-squad training matches – and we can’t wait to see how he gets on alongside Bruno Fernandes in midfield! Eric Bailly, who returned from a long-term knee injury in February, should also be fighting fit once again. Indeed, according to Luke Shaw, Ole will have a full complement to choose from heading into the final weeks of the season:
“We’ve got our full squad back now, so hopefully we can push on even more with the quality that’s going to be added from those returning players.”
3. BREAKING NEW GROUND
Our debut at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was just two days away when football was suspended indefinitely and, although we’ll now be making the trip down to north London with no supporters in tow, it’ll still be a great experience when we tick off our 58th Premier League away venue on 19 June. Taking all three points against Jose Mourinho’s side would make it even better!
4. CONTINUING OUR UNBEATEN RUN
Prior to the suspension of football in mid-March, the Reds were in rampant form, going 11 games unbeaten across all competitions. Propelled by the January additions of Fernandes and Odion Ighalo, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were fighting for a top-four position, as well as looking good in the FA Cup and Europa League. Let’s hope that we can pick up where we left off, starting in north London next Friday.
5. AN FA CUP QUARTER-FINAL
It’s not just the league that’s returning – the Reds will also get our campaign for a 13th FA Cup back under way when we travel down to Carrow Road to take on Norwich on Saturday 27 June. The match against the Canaries, which should have originally taken place at the end of March, will be shown live on BBC One at 17:30 BST. All eight teams remaining in the cup are in the Premier League, with big hitters Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal still in with a shout – which should mean some huge semi-finals and potentially a blockbuster final at Wembley in August.
6. THE RACE FOR THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Although the title appears to be already won, with Manchester City looking odds-on to finish a distant second behind Liverpool, the scramble for third, fourth and fifth – at the time of writing, enough to qualify for next season’s Champions League pending City’s CAS appeal – is wide open. Leicester, Chelsea and United currently occupy those all-important positions, but Wolves, Sheffield United, Tottenham and Arsenal are also jostling for European qualification, meaning there’s still plenty of mouthwatering fixtures to look forward to in June and July.
7. A FEAST OF FOOTBALL ON TV
All 92 of the remaining Premier League fixtures are being broadcast live across Sky Sports, BT, Amazon Prime and, for the first time ever, the BBC in the UK. The first of four free-to-air matches being shown by the Beeb is Bournemouth v Crystal Palace on Saturday 20 June, while Sky are also offering 25 of their games to non-subscribers, via the Pick channel, including the Merseyside derby on Sunday 21 June.