Three storylines to follow as Premier League returns
The Premier League is back!
Europe's top soccer league returns after a three-month hiatus on Wednesday, June 17 with a pair of matches. First up is Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United, followed by Manchester City vs. Arsenal.
Wed, June 17 2020, 5:00 PM
Wed, June 17 2020, 7:15 PM
Here are the three biggest storylines to follow as the Premier League returns.
Liverpool closing in on first Premier League title since 1990
It's been 30 years, but the drought is nearly over for Liverpool supporters.
The race to capture the Premier League title is really nothing more than a formality at this stage, with Liverpool holding a staggering 25-point lead over its nearest challenger, Manchester City.
Manchester City has played one fewer game than Liverpool, and would need to win its remaining 10 matches to collect a maximum of 30 points and hope that Liverpool records no more than four points in its remaining nine games.
Don’t get your hopes up if you’re a Manchester City fan.
Today should have been the day Liverpool had their Premier League title parade 🏆— Liverpool FC News (@LivEchoLFC) May 18, 2020
It might take a while, but it will be worth the wait 🙌 pic.twitter.com/CBSJWyAH0W
Mathematically, two more wins for Liverpool would result in the club's first league championship since 1990. The odds of Liverpool winning the Premier League were a whopping -100000 at BetAmerica at the beginning of the week.
Liverpool was on a remarkable pace when the season was brought to a halt in March, winning 27 of its 29 league matches, while scoring 66 goals for and conceding only 21.
Liverpool can take another step closer to clinching the title when it faces Everton on Sunday, and is a sizable favorite, with odds of -160 at BetAmerica to win the match.
Race for the UEFA Champions League is wide open
With the Premier League title all but locked up, the real fun will come from watching the final push to qualify for UEFA Champions League.
The added twist is that Manchester City may not be able to compete in European competitions after receiving a two-year ban handed down in February for what UEFA called "serious breaches" of licensing and financial regulations, and failure to cooperate with the investigation into this specific case.
Manchester City filed an appeal, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport was reportedly set to hear the appeal last week, according to Sports Illustrated. A decision has not yet been made, but if the initial ruling is upheld, it would keep Manchester City out of European competitions such as UEFA Champions League.
"We haven't heard the last of this".— #MyPLSummer (@NBCSportsSoccer) February 14, 2020
Peter Drury reacts to Manchester City's UEFA ban 😳. pic.twitter.com/zRgK73a3tj
The top four teams in the Premier League qualify. If Manchester City cannot compete in UEFA Champions League, the fifth-place team in the table, currently Manchester United, would take that spot.
The EPL's resumption will kick-off what should be a thrilling five-team race for that fifth spot.
Fifth-place Manchester United and ninth-place Arsenal are separated by only five points, and there are three clubs – Wolverhampton, Sheffield United, and Tottenham Hotspur – sandwiched in between, all vying for that spot that could land them in the UEFA Champions League.
Can Jamie Vardy win the scoring title?
Jamie Vardy is currently leading the race for the Golden Boot as the Premier League’s top goalscorer this season.
The Leicester City striker has 19 goals in 26 games this season, staking himself to a two-goal lead over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal and a three-goal lead over Mohamed Salah of Liverpool and Sergio Aguero of Manchester City.
All three of those players chasing Vardy for the Golden Boot shared the achievement last year, each scoring 22 goals.
Jamie Vardy from the penalty spot is about good as gold ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/tlMGjpxyhc— #MyPLSummer (@NBCSportsSoccer) March 9, 2020
With each team facing only nine or 10 games remaining on the schedule before the delayed conclusion of the 2019-20 season, the opportunity could certainly be there for one, if not all three, to put forward a serious challenge against Vardy’s hopes of winning the Golden Boot this year.
Earlier in the season, Vardy had to deal with a calf injury while working through a lengthy scoring slump that ran from the end of December through to the first half of March. He finally snapped the drought with a pair of goals against Aston Villa on Mar. 9.
That was Leicester City’s last match before the season was suspended.
The Premier League returns this week! Wager on matches now at BetAmerica