Season restart previews

Chelsea
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Chelsea season restart preview

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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they are at ahead of the final nine weeks of the season as Chelsea are up next.

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Focusing on Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, they have been in the top four hunt all season long with their young squad having a three-point lead over fifth-place Man United. An attacking, free-scoring team, Chelsea are fun to watch but defensively they need to improve if they’re going to qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season.

[ MORE: Every PL season restart preview

Let’s take a closer look at all things Chelsea when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: This has been a topsy-turvy season for Chelsea but overall it has been better than anybody expected. Frank Lampard has done well in his first season as a Premier League manager and the development of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Reece James has been very positive. But with such a young team (in part due to their transfer ban which is now over) there have been inconsistencies and Chelsea had struggled midseason and into the second half of the campaign. With a clutch of clubs breathing down their neck, fourth-place Chelsea have to improve defensively if they’re going to finish in the top four. If they can finish in the top four and reach the FA Cup final, plus put up a good fight in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg at Bayern Munich, that will have been a very good season for Lampard’s youngsters.


Tactical analysis: Early in the season Chelsea were scoring goals for fun and Abraham in particular was a goalscoring machine. His goals have dried up and Chelsea need players to finish off the chances they create. The way Lampard has them set up means they will create lots of chances and give up plenty of chances to opponents. Chelsea have created 361 chances this season, which is the second-most in the Premier League, behind only Man City (421). That is staggering. Tottenham and Burnley have conceded 40 goals each this season, but Chelsea have let in 39 for the third-worst goals against in the top 10 of the league. Quite simply, they dominate games in each box but have to become more ruthless. If they keep creating this amount of chances and Abraham is fit and refreshed, they will score two or three every game. That said, the experience trio of Willian, Pedro and Olivier Giroud proved before the suspension they can step in and help get Chelsea over the line. They may need to play more often at the business end of the season to get the job done.


Possible XI (4-3-3) 

—– Kepa —–

— James — Azpilicueta — Rudiger — Alonso —

— Jorginho — Kante  — Kovacic — 

— Willian — Abraham — Pulisic —


Remaining schedule:
Home: Man City, Watford, Norwich, Wolves
Away: Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, West Ham, Sheffield United, Liverpool

Predicted finish: On paper, Lampard’s side have a lot of easy games with Watford, Norwich, Aston Villa and West Ham all still to play. Those four teams are embroiled in the relegation battle but is now a good time to play them? Probably not. Despite Chelsea having the likes of Christian Pulisic and Abraham now fully fit, it remains to be seen if N’Golo Kante will return to action given his safety concerns about playing. If Kante doesn’t return to the Chelsea midfield, it will have a huge impact on them finishing in the top four. The suspension will have given this young Chelsea side time to rest and if they emulate their play at the start of the season they will finish in the top four. That said, teams now seem to have figured them out defensively and if I had to bet now, I’d say Man United will finish above them and in fourth place.

Manchester United season restart preview

Manchester United season restart
Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

Manchester United is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Red Devils when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: Very, very good. While United supporters will feel aggrieved to know their club cannot. catch their two biggest rivals, you wouldn’t laugh off the idea of them finishing as high as third given a wildly straight-forward fixture list and the fact that we are about to see Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, and Marcus Rashford together for the first time. Perhaps those players will have some growing pains, but the club has the depth to finish in the Premier League’s top four, challenge for the FA Cup, and win the Europa League.

[ MORE: Ranking every Man Utd player’s 2019-20 PL season ]


Tactical analysis: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s favorite formation this year has been a 4-2-3-1, though he turned to a 3-4-1-2 in memorable wins over Chelsea and Man City just before the coronavirus pause.

We don’t know his plans to produce an attack with Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, and Marcus Rashford together, but the best possible XI is going to leave out some very good players. Playing Scott McTominay and Fred, both revelations, leaves out either wide players or puts Pogba or Fernades out of position (unless he opts for a 4-4-2 which will ask a lot of Rashford and Anthony Martial).

Since making his Manchester United debut on February 1, Fernandes leads the club in all competitions in shots (33), shots on target (12), assists (4) and chances created (24), and ranks third in goals (3).


Possible XI (4-3-1-2) 

—– De Gea —–

— Wan-Bissaka — Lindelof — Maguire — B. Williams —

—– Fred — Pogba — McTominay —–

—– Fernandes —–

—– Rashford —– Martial —–

This lineup excludes Luke Shaw, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata, Daniel James, Odion Ighalo, Marcus Greenwood, and Eric Bailly. That’s a very decent bench. Solskjaer could also put a lot of responsibility on Fred or McTominay by putting Fernandes and Pogba in the center of the pitch with him and using a three-man forward line of Rashford, Martial, and another.

[ MORE: The 2 Robbies assess Man Utd’s chances ]


[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Sheffield United, Bournemouth, Southampton, West Ham
Away: Spurs, Brighton, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Leicester City

Predicted finish: Depending on your faith in Leicester City, United will probably be favorites if not heavy favorites in seven or eight of their nine matches. Their home matches feature sides both surprising and desperate but it’ll be stunning if a side that found its groove to the tune of a five-match unbeaten run before the coronavirus pause and returns Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford fails to finish in the top four.

Season restart preview: Arsenal

Arsenal
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they are at ahead of the final nine weeks of the season as Arsenal are up first.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Focusing on Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, who had plenty of momentum before the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, they now have plenty of players back fit and ready for a late season surge.

Let’s take a closer look at all things Arsenal when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: Arteta has lost just one of his 10 Premier League games in charge of Arsenal and somehow he has managed to solidify their defensive unit and the Gunners could be set for a late top four push. They do have a game in hand on their rivals but that is away at Man City. However you look at it, Arteta has Arsenal grinding defensively and we all know they have the attacking weapons to score goals galore. They are in the FA Cup last eight too and there is plenty of optimism around the Emirates Stadium as Arteta has placed his faith in young homegrown talents.


Tactical analysis: What has been the biggest change since Unai Emery was fired? Arsenal have kept things tight at the back with a solid back four which has seen David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi strike up an unlikely partnership. With Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos ahead of them there is a mixture of grit and flair too. Stats wise, Arsenal have faced the sixth-most shots in the Premier League this season (415) and among the ‘big six’ clubs, only bitter rivals Tottenham have faced more (418). Arsenal have to stay solid and stop giving up so many shooting opportunities. If they can do that, you always fancy to knock in a few at the other end.


Possible XI (4-2-3-1) 

—– Leno —–

— Bellerin — Luiz — Mustafi — Saka —

—- Xhaka —- Ceballos —-

—- Pepe —- Ozil —- Aubameyang —-

—– Nketiah —–

Notice that there is no Alexandre Lacazette, Kieran Tierney or Matteo Guendouzi. Lacazette and Guendouzi do not appear to be favorites of Arteta, while Tierney has been unlucky with injuries and the emergence of Bukayo Saka playing out of position at left back. Do not be surprised to see Saka pushed up to be a winger and Tierney come in, while January loan signings Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares may also be given the chance to establish themselves. The lineup above perhaps isn’t their strongest on paper but it is the on which was working best for Arteta before the suspension arrived.


Remaining schedule:
Home: Norwich, Leicester, Liverpool, Watford
Away: Man City, Brighton, Southampton, Wolves, Tottenham, Aston Villa

Predicted finish: With Arsenal currently in ninth place in the table, it seems unlikely they can make a late surge into the top four but they are just eight points off fourth-place Chelsea and have a game in-hand. Arteta would surely be happy with a top six finish and run to at least the FA Cup final. Given everything that has happened at Arsenal this season with Emery leaving, Arteta arriving and several stars not performing, that wouldn’t be bad at all.

Liverpool season restart preview

Liverpool
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they are at ahead of the final nine weeks of the season as Liverpool are up next.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Focusing on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, they need five more points to seal the Premier League title as their 30-year wait for the English title is almost over. With just one defeat during the 2019-20 season so far, Liverpool have dominated the Premier League and have a 25 point lead over second-place Man City. Liverpool will be crowned the Champions of England soon after the resumption and they are on track to break many records.

[ MORE: Every PL season restart preview ] 

Let’s take a closer look at all things Liverpool when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: This has been a truly historic season for Liverpool and Klopp. They pushed Man City all the way last season but just came up short but they won the UEFA Champions League. In this very rare instance, the Premier League trophy would mean more to every Liverpool fan than the Champions League title. A supreme defensive unit led by Virgil van Dijk and Alisson perfectly balanced the attacking trio of Salah, Mane and Firmino, surging full backs Alexander-Arnold and Robertson and captain Jordan Henderson has taken his game to a whole new level in midfield. Across the board Liverpool have been sensational as they won the FIFA Club World Cup and are about to be crowned the Premier League champions. The wait is almost over and Klopp has constructed one of the best teams the Premier League has ever seen with their high-pressing, speedy attacking unit complemented by a sturdy backline.


Tactical analysis: One of the most intriguing parts of this Liverpool side is that even though they rely on turnovers and counter attacks to create a lot of chances, they have averaged 63 percent possession this season which Man City only better with 66 percent. In turn, Liverpool have the third-fewest interceptions (266) and fourth-fewest tackles won (258) in the Premier League this season simply because they have the ball so much. That is a change from their previous seasons but since Klopp took charge they have won 2,139 tackles (third-most in the PL) so that shows you that breaking up the play has been key to his philosophy but that clearly hasn’t been the case this season. Liverpool have kept hold of the ball more, their defenders are recycling possession when options aren’t open and they are being more patient. That has been the big change in 2019-20 but they also have the devastating pace of Mane, Firmino and Salah on the counter which remains their main weapon. Tactically, Liverpool have evolved and that is why they’ve been so dominant this season.


Possible XI (4-3-3) 

—– Alisson —–

— Alexander-Arnold — Gomez — Van Dijk — Robertson —

— Henderson — Fabinho — Wijnaldum —

—- Mane —- Firmino —- Salah —-


Remaining schedule:
Home: Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, Burnley, Chelsea
Away: Everton, Man City, Brighton, Arsenal, Newcastle

Predicted finish: Well, I think we can all answer this question. They will win the Premier League and rightly so. There’s just no way they aren’t going to win the league and even though there will be no fans present in the stadium when they lift the title, every Liverpool fan around the world will be a ball of emotion. Jurgen Klopp promised trophies when he arrived in 2015 and he has duly delivered. It will be intriguing to see if Liverpool can break the records for most wins, points etc. in a season in the final nine games.

Manchester City season restart preview

Manchester City season restart
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

Manchester City is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things City when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: City’s two-year spell as defending champions will end very soon, but Pep Guardiola has reason to believe three pieces of silverware could again arrive at the Etihad Stadium. Leroy Sane is now available again, making a Sane-Aguero-Sterling front line a tantalizing possibility, while Aymeric Laporte is healthy, too. That’s an even bigger deal as City is unbeaten in the seven PL appearances Laporte has made this season (6W-1D).

That’s good news considering City is about to miss out on European competition for two seasons pending an appeal next week.

[ MORE: Ranking every Brighton player in 2019-20 ]


Tactical analysis: It’s Pep Guardiola, so it’s all about the ball. Man City’s league-leading 66 percent possession rate sees it having made the most passes (18,927) and the most successful passes (16,817) in the PL. Since Guardiola took charge, Manchester City have averaged 68 percent possession, the highest rate in the PL. How good is that? Second-place Liverpool is six percent behind.


Possible XI (4-3-3) 

—– Ederson —–

— Walker — Laporte — Fernandinho — Zinchenko —

—– Gundogan —– Rodri — De Bruyne —

 —–  Sterling—– Aguero —– Sane —–

There’s been a lot of 4-3-3 in City’s 2020 and their forward trident is going to be as venomous as ever. Consider that Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus are having sensational years but will rotate into an attack with Sterling, Aguero, and Sane expected to feature plenty. Rodri may be the straw that stirs the drink, but Kevin De Bruyne’s status as the probably PFA Player of the Year will be one to watch as he approaches the PL single season assist record.

[ MORE: The 2 Robbies assess Man City’s chances ]


[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Arsenal, Burnley, Liverpool, Newcastle, Bournemouth, Norwich City
Away: Chelsea, Southampton, Brighton, Watford

Predicted finish: Second with a bullet. City has six of its remaining 10 matches at home, including intriguing matches with old pal Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal and a rematch with soon-to-be champions Liverpool. Don’t be surprised if Pep prioritizes the FA Cup and preparing his team for a (probable) August return of the UEFA Champions League. City leads Real Madrid after one leg of the Round of 16.