100 days later: Premier League returns after coronavirus exile | Daily News


 

100 days later: Premier League returns after coronavirus exile

The Premier League has been on hold since March. - AFP
The Premier League has been on hold since March. - AFP

London, Wednesday: The Premier League makes its eagerly anticipated return on Wednesday after 100 days in lockdown, with Manchester City's clash against Arsenal taking centre stage at the start of a frenetic dash to finish the season.

While the coronavirus pandemic means the Premier League will look very different from three months ago, football-starved fans will be able to feast on 92 games crammed into less than six weeks.

There is still much to decide over the rest of the season, with Liverpool on the brink of their first English title for 30 years, Champions League places up for grabs and a heated relegation battle going down to the wire.

Relegation-threatened Aston Villa get the ball rolling on Wednesday with their home game against European hopefuls Sheffield United.

Pep Guardiola's second-placed City provide the star power when Arsenal visit the Etihad Stadium a few hours later.

A City defeat would mean leaders Liverpool would clinch the title if they won at Merseyside rivals Everton on Sunday.

It was the announcement that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had contracted the virus in March that forced the Premier League to press pause.

With all games being played behind closed doors, players will have to get used to the eerie silence in the usually noisy stands.

Piping crowd chants into stadiums, cardboard cut-outs of supporters and live video fan walls will add colour but the absence of fans will be a jarring sight at first.

In total, about 300 people will be allowed in stadiums for each match, with strict health protocols in place.

There will be widespread disinfection of changing facilities, dugouts, matchballs, goalposts, corner flags and substitution boards.

People other than players and coaching staff on team benches must wear face coverings. Players have been told to maintain social-distancing during goal celebrations and encouraged not to spit.

AFP


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