The countdown Part 4: English Premier League returns

The countdown Part 4: English Premier League returns

For good or for bad, the Premier League is back. Sure, its return has been questioned comprehensively and the arguments look set to continue in the weeks and months ahead. Suspended since mid-March due to COVID-19, the season is set to resume on June 17. However, it will be a pretty different type of football from what we’re used to seeing. For instance, Fifa has allowed leagues to temporarily change their rules to allow five substitutes in an attempt to reduce the risk of injuries while games will be played behind closed doors and with social-distancing rules in place. Here’s part 4 of our Premier League restart preview looking at Leicester City and Aton Villa …

Leicester City

First game back: Watford v Leicester City


Pos: 3rd

Leicester's Ayoze Perez reacts at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and Chelsea
Leicester City dipped in form before the coronavirus-enforced break

The Foxes may be riding high sitting in third place but they just aren’t as fun to watch ever since Claudio “Dilly-ding, dilly-dong” Ranieri was sacked. In fact, Brendan Rodgers’ side are currently in a sticky patch of form having recorded just two wins from their last eight Premier League matches since the turn of the year.

They thrashed Midlands rivals Aston Villa 4-0 before suspension kicked in but may now find goals hard to come by what with attacking full-back Ricardo Pereira out injured until the end of the season. But, James Maddison will be back from a knock to give them a boost and with some agreeable fixtures coming up, not to mention a FA Cup quarter-final clash with Chelsea, there’s all to play for.

Aston Villa

First game back: Aston Villa v Sheffield United


Pos: 19th

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Aston Villa';s Jack Grealish

Even though they have a game in hand, it doesn’t look good for Villa. They’re sitting 19th in the table and have a nightmare remaining schedule. Still to play are Sheffield United, Chelsea, Wolves, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton. On paper, the only winnable games look to be West Ham, Crystal Palace and Newcastle but they’ll have to be at their best to get any points from their last 10. Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings have been good this season (losing John McGinn and Tom Heaton to serious injuries hit them hard) but you can’t expect two players to carry a team.

Their main problem has been conceding sloppy goals which is a surprise when they have John Terry on the coaching staff. They’ve been a tad too cavalier in their play which has left them exposed at the back but they are the third-highest scorers in the bottom half of the table. Going back to their remaining games — where they face six of the top nine — and it looks like Villa will go down. That final game of the season against West Ham could well be a belter of a winner-stays-up battle.

First game back: Aston Villa v Sheffield United


Pos: 20th