3 Teams who the coronavirus suspension could benefit | Premier League 2019-20
- Could the Premier League's coronavirus suspension actually benefit some teams?
- The suspension could allow teams some rest and give injured players a better chance of returning.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has affected every facet of daily life, and naturally, sport has become another victim of the disease. The Premier League was suspended on 13th March, and a potential restart date of 2nd May now seems fanciful at best, with the pandemic expected to drag on long into the summer.
If we’re honest, nobody – from the clubs and players to the fans and pundits – wanted this kind of disruption to the 2019-20 season, but now it’s happened, could some teams actually welcome the break? Quite possibly.
Here are three teams who might benefit from the Premier League suspension caused due to the coronavirus outbreak.
It goes without saying that no club has more to lose if the 2019-20 season is declared null and void than Liverpool. The Reds are currently sitting on top of the Premier League table, 25 points clear of their nearest rivals Manchester City, and in the weeks before the suspension of games, it seemed inevitable that they’d go on to lift their first league title in 30 years.
However, the prospect of a null and void season is now seemingly beginning to fade, and regardless of how they do it, it looks like the Premier League is determined to have the 2019-20 season come to a conclusion. If that’s the case, then Jurgen Klopp’s side will almost certainly look back on the current break as a welcome one.
The Reds were seemingly unstoppable in the first half of the season – dropping just a single point in Premier League action and marching into the Round of 16 of the Champions League – but in recent games, they’d begun to wobble somewhat.
An unconvincing win over Norwich City was followed by a Champions League loss to Atletico Madrid, and while the Reds bounced back from that to squeeze out another win over West Ham, their first Premier League loss – to strugglers Watford – soon followed. Klopp’s men then wobbled again in their win over Bournemouth before being dumped out of Europe with a second-leg defeat to Atletico at Anfield.
The wobble likely would’ve been corrected in the games that should’ve followed, but if it hadn’t been, while Liverpool would still have won the league, it may not have been in the record-breaking way that Reds fans would’ve hoped prior to February.
This break, though, should allow Klopp’s men to re-energise and recapture the magic that made them near impossible to beat earlier in the season – and there’s every chance that if they can restart on form against Mersey rivals Everton, they could even break Manchester City’s record of 100 points from the 2017-18 season.
#2 Tottenham Hotspur
After a solid run between late January and early February saw them win three games in a row in the Premier League, Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur had once again hit a slump right before the coronavirus caused the current break in action.
Losses to Chelsea and Wolves in Premier League action were followed by an unconvincing draw with Burnley, while they were dumped out of the FA Cup by Norwich and out of the Champions League by RB Leipzig.
Mourinho’s main point of contention was with the various injuries his side had suffered. Not only had Spurs lost their talismanic striker Harry Kane, but Moussa Sissoko, Son Heung-min and Steven Bergwijn had also been sidelined, leaving the side largely toothless in attack.
None of the four were expected to return in the 2019-20 campaign, but of course, with the coronavirus break, it appears that they could all be back by the time the Premier League resumes, assuming it does at some point in the summer.
To add to that, Mourinho – who only took over the North London club in late November – will have had a little more time to spend with his players before all training was suspended last week, and there’s every chance now that Spurs’ stars are far more comfortable with the Portuguese’s methods due to the extended period of time with him.
Add in the fact that the break came directly in the middle of a slump in form – which should be long forgotten by the time the action begins again – and there’s every chance that Spurs regain their mojo and go onto secure an all-important top-four place by the end of the campaign.
#3 Aston Villa
Prior to the coronavirus-enforced suspension of Premier League action, Aston Villa were undoubtedly in deep trouble. A 4-0 loss to Leicester left them stranded in 19th place, three points adrift from safety due to their poor goal difference, and while they did have a game in hand on their relegation rivals, their form suggested that slipping back into the EFL Championship was a distinct possibility.
Even more worryingly for boss Dean Smith – a lifelong Villa fan – in the days before the suspension, there had been plenty of talk in the media about the potential of him losing his job to be replaced with a “relegation specialist” such as Sam Allardyce in an attempt to save the club from the drop.
That’s why, more than any other Premier League side, the enforced break will have been welcomed by Smith and his team. It’ll be a welcome chance for them to regroup and recharge their batteries – hopefully allowing key players like Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings a much-needed rest.
More to the point, like Tottenham, the Villains had suffered some bad luck with injuries during the campaign, losing key players John McGinn, Tom Heaton and Wesley Moraes for extended periods. The latter two were not expected to feature again in 2019-20, but with the extended break meaning the season will likely drag on into the summer, all three players should be available to Smith once things restart.
The addition of McGinn, in particular, should help to galvanise the team, and that should give Villa – who still have their game in hand to fall back upon – a fighting chance of surviving in the Premier League going forward.Published 23 Mar 2020, 17:05 IST