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Premier League Returns After 100 Days


It has been 100 days since the horn signaled the match between  Leicester and Aston Villa at King Power Stadium, on 9/3. It feels like fans have to wait longer than that. Players from both teams try not to shake hands, following safety recommendations between pandemics. However, few viewers think they have to wait until mid-June to see the Nike Merlin ball roll back on the English grass. There are people who want to end the season immediately, whether to cancel all results or consider the current scoreboard as the final result. But, the Premier League is still inviolable.
The tournament will re-export with empty stands at Villa Park and Etihad today. The football atmosphere has changed dramatically since being interrupted.

Battle of Leicester (blue shirt) - Aston Villa took place just before the Premier League was interrupted. Photo: Reuters .

Leicester's 4-0 victory over Aston Villa is the 288th match this season. You may have forgotten, the 287th match was a Manchester derby . The Great War at Old Trafford closed with a 35-meter shot from Scott McTominay, following a mistake from goalkeeper Ederson. The match 286, which took place the day before, saw Chelsea destroy Everton 4-0 . Frank Lampard's students  played overwhelmingly, thanks to the inspiration of young talents Billy Gilmour and Mason Mount. The 279 match was Liverpool 's comeback against the Bournemouth guest, helping Jurgen Klopp's teachers create a 25-point gap from the second-placed Man City group . The first championship in 30 years is just a few days away from Liverpool. They thought so.
The season is also remembered by the dots from Liverpool's relentless efforts, the peak performance of Kevin De Bruyne , Man Utd's 4-0 victory over Chelsea in the opening round, phenomena like Leicester, Sheffield United, stars like Tammy Abraham, Wilfred Ndidi, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Marcus Rashford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Adama Traore, Gabriel Martinelli, Dwight McNeil or mid-line generals at Arsenal, Everton, Tottenham, West Ham and Watford. Remember the match that ended 9-0 ? Which player pretends to be a snowman driving a Lamborghini into a home? Remember the endless debate about the pros and cons of VAR?

Liverpool fans probably think that the championship race this season is not a problem . They beat Norwich 4-1 in the first match of the season, on an unusually cold Friday night. Since then, they have won 26 more matches, drew one and only lost one match against Watford in late February. But Liverpool's journey was not easy. Jurgen Klopp 's students  played the ball with the highest performance, forming a strong team beyond imagination. Last season, they earned the third highest score in English Premier League history, but still one point behind the City champions. Klopp stated that Liverpool will play more focused this season. And he was right.

Answering to The Athletic in November 2019, Klopp revealed how to change the students' competitive mentality. The Liverpool boys are like bullets that have been loaded, just waiting for Klopp to pull the trigger. But the German military commander had no plans to improve the mentality of the students. Instead, he pays tribute to the team's psychologist - Lee Richardson. The results exceeded expectations. From a team that often collapsed under pressure throughout the season, Liverpool was all acknowledged.

Even when sharp cracks appear, they are healed immediately. Liverpool struggled to win at the last minute against Sheffield, Leicester, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, not to mention Adam Lallana's late equalizer at Old Trafford. It all took eight weeks, culminating in a victory over Man City on November 10, 2019. Three months earlier at Burnley, Sadio Mane was clearly angry at Mohamed Salah despite the home team leading 3-0. The two stars reconcile even before entering the locker room.
Both Mane and Salah need an ego to reach today's level. A man who left his family, left his village in Senegal to pursue his football dream. The rest also had to travel throughout Egypt on mini buses. They combined with a Brazilian striker possessing strange white teeth, forming a trio that fascinates the soccer world.
Salah (left) and Mane used to be angry at each other, but made up right on the field. Photo: Reuters 
Goals from Fabinho, Salah and Mane have helped Liverpool beat Man City nine points after 12 matches. The gap has been widening ever since. Coach Pep Guardiola has the right to question the referee. Just a few dozen seconds before Fabinho opened the scoring, the ball touched Alexander-Arnold in Liverpool's penalty area. Guardiola waited for VAR's decision, but the goal was still recognized. Man City lost two matches before their trip to Anfield that day, including the home defeat to Norwich 2-3 in Carrow Road. That failure points to the weakness of the Man City defense, after captain Vincent Kompany left.

There are six players conceding both Liverpool and Man City this season, including Teemu Pukki . The Finnish striker, 29, first tried in the Premier League, but integrated as fast as the fish met the water. The people of the fishing village of Kotka in Finland were not surprised by the explosion of their native son Pukki earlier in the season. But the Norwich shirt shops were still out of stock. The first few rounds, Pukki, Todd Cantwell and his teammates were praised. The teachers and students Daniel Farke flew high, with a victory over Man City in the fifth round. But gravity left no one behind, and Norwich fell to the bottom of the board from the 19th round until now.

Another rookie of the Premier League who plays more impressively is Sheffield . One of Chris Wilder's first jobs here is to use a screwdriver to remove the motivational signs that his predecessor Nigel Adkins left. After four years, Wilder helped Sheffield rise two places and are competing for the European Cup. Sheffield's defense is certainly second only to Liverpool, and Wilder's students are almost unhurt. The secret lies in "Horror Tuesday".
European and American movie channels often see Tuesday as an opportunity to replay horror movies. For Sheffield, it was an extremely exhausting practice for the team. Defender George Baldock told the Mirror on March 27: "Horror Tuesday? I'm still afraid of it. Every Tuesday, during the preparation for the season, we often practice vegetarianism without using balls. We had to run, walk, and speed up, there was a time when the players collapsed from fatigue, the coach said: 'Let's start from the beginning.' I haven't missed a minute this season. Only then did the training team devise a clever lesson plan to improve the fitness of the students ".

Injury is an obsession with Tottenham this season , when there was a time when coach Jose Mourinho complained that they did not have a striker. But the problems of Tottenham came before the start of the season. On 6/10, The Athletic quoted an unnamed player complaining that coach Mauricio Pochettino gave too boring instructions. Another player even felt sick of Pochettino. When the Argentinian strategist was sacked on November 19, a player said: "He was sulky every day so he was sacked."
Mourinho was used to the situation that did not satisfy some students. The former Chelsea and Man Utd coach immediately inspired Tottenham to win the first three matches. But then he encountered the problems that his predecessor faced.
Mourinho's honeymoon at Tottenham did not last long. Photo: Reuters .
Also in North London, disagreements between Arsenal teachers and students were exposed right at the Emirates. In the 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace, captain Granit Xhaka swore and showed his attitude when being replaced. That scene illustrates the series of days coach Unai Emery failed to establish order at the Emirates. After 18 months of being expected to reform "Gunner", Emery must leave on November 29. His successor was a man who had his maps and tactics posted on the wall: Mikel Arteta.

The same thing happened at Everton, when coach Marco Silva broke his principles with expensive but incompatible contracts. Fans have demanded the dismissal of Silva after losing to Norwich on November 23. But two more failures were needed for Silva to leave. Assistant Duncan Ferguson temporarily took power and regained solidarity in the team. He then happily ceded the official chair to Carlo Ancelotti. From the position of the red light in the 18th round, Everton had a time in the top 10 and was ranked 12th. Striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin benefited most from the presence of Ancelotti.

Changing generals is also Watford's story. Watford leaders seem to have found a true love with coach Javier Gracia - who brought the team to the FA Cup final last season. But the Spanish leader was fired after only four rounds, including three defeats. Watford brought coach Quique Sanchez Flores back. But after only 85 days and 10 matches, Sanchez suffered the same fate as Gracia.
Failure with the Spaniards, Watford changed strategy when appointing Nigel Pearson. Pearson used to live in the army and orientated his lesson plan to follow the military regime. Watford only earned eight points in the first 15 matches. But since Pearson returned to Vicarage Road, they won 19 points from 14 matches. Watford has just stepped out of the relegation group, because Pearson knows how to grasp each player.

Battle mentality is an important part of football. Changing the philosophy of an entire team is a difficult challenge. Last season under Chris Hughton, Brighton ranked fourth from the bottom in terms of possession. This season, coach Graham Potter put Brighton on sixth on this list. Potter's ball control strategy is promising, especially after Arsenal's December 5 win on the pitch. But Falmer's home club dropped steeply. They only won one of the 14 consecutive matches, until the season was interrupted. From the position of the European Cup competition, they fell to the 15th. "Football is not a beauty contest," Potter told The Atheltic on January 22. Potter is currently worried about relegation.
West Ham also started promising, sometimes climbing to fifth place. But they lost 15 matches in the last 22 rounds, falling to the relegation group. West Ham's decline in the series made coach Manuel Pellegrini lose his chair on December 28. One board member blamed the players saying: "They run pressure, then walk". The decision to reappoint David Moyes shows trouble within the team leadership. West Ham owners are said to be incompetent and ambitious.
Will Fernandes still maintain his form before the Premier League was interrupted. Photo: Reuters .


The situation also often appears in Man Utd . The "Reds" fans' dissatisfaction with Glazer culminated after the defeat at Burnley Stadium on January 23. Between them there is only one thing in common, all support coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Norwegian leader is trying to change the team culture, after Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. Solskjaer's achievement is not clear, but at least they can show their bravery in the big matches. The presence of rookie Bruno Fernandes in January also helped Man Utd go in the right direction.

Not only Man Utd and Arsenal, Chelsea also appointed the former player as a coach, to uphold the team's identity. Frank Lampard is creating an unstable, but promising Chelsea team with young talents like Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi. Whether or not they win the Champions League, this group of players will also be the foundation for Chelsea in the coming years.
The race to the top 4 cannot be ignored by Wolverhampton. They are still strained in the English Premier League and Europa League, with not too thick forces. But Nuno Espirito Santo's teachers and students still kept their form. Adama Traore is one of the most progressive players this season. The defenders still respect Traore's terrifying speed. But what impressed him this season was the slow down times, to play more effectively.

Wolves look to the model of Leicester - a mid-range team now standing in the top 4. After the unbelievable championship in 2016 , Leicester lost only one season of decline before regaining its position. Coach Brendan Rodgers turned Leicester into an exciting team and challenged every big man. Jamie Vardy is faster and more intimidating than ever, at the age of 33. And Ricardo Pereira, Caglar Soyuncu, Ben Chilwell or Wilfried Ndidi all performed at the top level of the tournament.

Recently Leicester have not been as sublime as the beginning of the season, but they are still firmly in third place, four points behind City . Leicester are satisfied, and Man City is not. Pep Guardiola's teachers and men will almost become former kings, despite the great opportunity of eliminating Real Madrid in the 1/8 round of the Champions League. Statistics show that Man City's defense lacks certainty in big matches. The ability of the Man City player siege also decreased. Without the talent of Kevin de Bruyne , the gap between them and Liverpool could be greater. Man City's defeat at Man Utd helped Liverpool only two wins away from the championship.

Liverpool expect to be crowned on the pitch of the same city team - Everton, March 16. But after Arteta and Hudson-Odoi were positive for nCoV, the British government delayed all sports activities, including the Premier League. "I used to say football is the most important of the least important things," Klopp said on the Liverpool homepage on March 14. "Today's football is not important at all. Of course we don't want to play under the empty stands. We don't want the tournament to be postponed. But if we do that to keep everyone healthy and safe, we will obey. No questions asked. "

Premier League reappears in unprecedented context. The field may be empty, but still full of tension, suspense, and events. There will be no lyrics, but still joy and tears.




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