What To Bet On When The Premier League Returns – Which Teams Will Perform Better Or Worse
By the time the Premier League gets back underway on the 17th of June, it will have been absent from our lives for 100 days. The decision to suspend league football was entirely understandable, to say nothing of it being inevitable from the moment that Mikel Arteta confirmed that he’d tested positive for the illness that caused a global shutdown.
It does feel as if life is slowly starting to return to something resembling normality, though, and football is a good example of normality. It is something that billions around the world love to watch and the Premier League itself is one of the most popular divisions in existence. Before the sport returns to the UK, it’s worth having a think about how the remaining games might go.
On this page we look at some of the places still up for grabs in the PL and those teams that might struggle vs those that will come back stronger (as Peter Crouch would say). Given this is a unique situation that hasn’t happened before the bookies will struggle more than usual to price markets, which may allow punters to find some good value and we offer some insights that might help with that below. If you do plan to bet visit our Premier League offers page where you can find promotions that can add further value.
Teams That Might Hit The Ground Running
The obvious thing to assume about the return of football is that the teams that were doing well before everything was suspended will continue in that same form, but is that logical? The team that everyone will have an eye on straight off the bat will be Liverpool, given that the Merseyside club need just two more wins to secure their first title of the Premier League era.
The Reds have endured tough returns to football after the last few mid-season breaks that they’ve had, suffering three losses in four matches across all competitions after the winter break earlier this year, for example. The fact that the first game back for them will be the Merseyside derby against Everton, which it has been confirmed will be held at Goodison Park, should ensure that there’s no complacency.
Liverpool may still have their away games at Manchester City at a neutral venue. This could mean the most difficult away game on paper for is played at a neural venue and should mean they have even more of an advantage in winning the title early.
Behind Closed Doors
The fact that matches will be behind closed doors is also likely to have at least some form of impact on teams. Interestingly, the return to action in Germany has the home teams suffer more than would have been expected. So far only 19% of matches have been won by the home side in the Bundesliga, with 22 of 27 matches being won by the away team.
When you compare that to the average of 46% of games that are usually won by the home team, you can see why we might experience some unusual results in the Premier League when things get underway again. The obvious question then becomes about what difference that is likely to make in the run-in.
The title is all but decided, with Liverpool’s 25 point lead over Manchester City virtually unassailable. Yet the European places and which clubs will go down are far from certain. Things don’t look good for Norwich City, who are rock bottom of the Premier League and were average 1 point per game at home and 0.4 PPG away.
Aston Villa have also depended on their home form this season, with the Midlands club sitting one point clear of safety but with a game-in-hand. It’s interesting to note that the likes of West Ham, Leicester City, Crystal Palace, Manchester City, Liverpool and Sheffield United all have roughly the same sort of form regardless of where they’re playing, so might cope the best with no crowds.
How The Games Are Distributed
|Team||Home Fixtures||Away Fixtures|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||5||4|
|Liverpool||4||5 (1 at neutral venue)|
|Manchester City||6 (1 at neutral venue)||4|
|West Ham United||5||4|
Given the fact that there’s not going to be a home crowd at any fixture and the results we’ve seen from the Bundesliga, it will be interesting to look at how the games work out for the remainder of the campaign. Above we look at how many games each team have at home and away, although a few of these will be a neutral venues as discussed.
Which Clubs Have The Toughest Run-ins?
Brighton & Hove Albion have won 1.29 Points Per Game at home compared to 0.73 PPG on the road, so they’ll be pleased, in theory at least, that they’ve got more home games than away ones. That being said, they won’t be overly pleased that those home matches come against both Manchester clubs, Liverpool and Arsenal as well as a tricky game against Newcastle United.
Aston Villa, meanwhile, have to play Sheffield United, who will be chasing an improbable Champions League spot, Chelsea, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Manchester United and Arsenal as well as a Crystal Palace side who will be keen to secure a mid-table finish if possible. Losing the average 41,661 supporters they’ve enjoyed at Villa Park won’t be easy.
The Relegation Question
When it comes to the relegation battle, there are still about six teams who could realistically find themselves embroiled in it. Bournemouth sit in 18th on 27 points, meaning that really all clubs up to Brighton in 15th on 29 points will be part of the conversation. Southampton are on 34 points and you’d imagine that will be enough of a cushion to keep them safe.
The teams at the bottom play sides with an average league position of the following:
- Brighton – 8.6
- West Ham – 11.3
- Watford – 10.1
- Bournemouth – 8.2
- Aston Villa – 8.4
- Norwich City – 11
That seems to suffuse that it’s Bournemouth who have the toughest job, followed by Brighton and Aston Villa. West Ham have the ‘easiest’ run in, as do Norwich City, but it will take little short of a miracle to see the Canaries stay up.
The Battle For Europe
Before the remaining games even resume, we’ll have an answer to the Manchester City question. The Cityzens were issued a two year ban from the Champions League by UEFA back in February, but the defending Premier League champions appealed the decision to the Court Of Arbitration For Sport. That appeal will begin on the 8th of June and will last for three days.
That means that by the time they kick-off against Arsenal on the 17th of June, they’ll know whether they’re likely to be out of Europe next season. If they are then it will give extra impetus to every club from Manchester United down to Arsenal to finish the season as strongly as possible and try to nab the Champions League football that will come with fifth place.
Man United and Wolves both have one top 6 opponent left to play, with United have four bottom 6 opponents compared to Wolves’ three. Sheffield United, on the other hand, have four top 6 fixtures and just one bottom 6 game, whilst Spurs have two of each and Arsenal have four of each. The suggestion is that United will grab at least 5th if they carry on their form so far.
The conversation isn’t totally over for either Leicester City and Chelsea, with the London club sitting just three points clear of the Red Devils before the sport resumes. Leicester are the far more secure, sitting on 53 points, eight clear of United, and having one top 6 match and three bottom 6 games to go compared to Chelsea’s three and four respectively.
Reasons Sides May Struggle
There are reasons aside from the matches left to play and the location those matches will take place in that may cause teams to struggle. One of the chief examples comes in the form of Troy Deeney saying that he won’t return to play football because of fears over how black, asian and minority ethnic people are responding to the virus. As one of Watford’s key players, that would be a big blow.
There had been fears that Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante would also not return, granted compassionate leave by the club after raising fears about the situation. He did eventually return to training, however, thereby giving the club a boost as they search for the points needed to ensure that they are able to keep hold of their current position within the top four.
5 Subs Might Make A Difference
One of the most interesting things about football’s return is the decision from the authorities to allow five substitutions in each match. The idea behind the move is to stop players from getting unnecessary injuries caused by asking their muscles to do too much work after such a long break. The fact is that many games will be played in a short period, so injuries must be avoided.
Whilst they can replace five players, clubs will still only have three chances in a match to do it. This is to reduce the chance of disruption and to stop managers using the substitutions for time-wasting. Of course, the other thing it does is give teams with deeper squads an advantage of those with fewer top-class players to choose from.
According to The Athletic, that is likely to play into the hands of sides like Chelsea and Manchester United. Frank Lampard has rotated often during the season, presenting opportunities to players outside the top-14 most used to stamp their authority on selections ahead of next season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, meanwhile, has used 28 different players over the campaign.
How The Return Will Look
It is likely that the Premier League will follow similar measure put in place for the Bundesliga when it returns. That means that celebrations will need to be performed at a social distance, substitutes will wear masks on the sideline and sit away from each other, whilst coaches will do the same. As many best practices as possible will be put in place, but some will be difficult to police.
Players are supposed to keep their distance from each other as much as possible, but how will this work at corners? The Premier League is a famously physical league, with players often grappling and grabbing each other during set-pieces. Quite how this will be stopped remains to be seen, though you’d hope some common sense will prevail.
Regardless of how silly it may look for substitutes to sit apart from each other when two minutes later they could be crunching into a tackle, it is the right thing to do. The aim is to reduce the risk to players as much as possible, so as many precautions as can be taken will only be a good thing. In the coming weeks we’ll find out how successful these precautions will be.
What Will Happen If There’s A Second Wave?
As the government begins to lift the lockdown in stages in spite of the lack of evidence to support the decision to do so, the obvious question being asked is what will happen if the virus comes back in just as deadly a manner as it did to force the introduction of such measures in the first place. The answer is that football will, once again, be suspended.
The only difference will be that this time it will not return a second time. Instead, clubs have agreed that an unweighted Points Per Game system will be used to decide the final standings. That will mean that clubs towards the bottom of the table that have struggled so far this season will need to have a really strong finish, less PPG be needed to settle matters.
What Happens If Players Get It
The Premier League is continually carrying out tests on all players and members of staff at football clubs, with every set of results so far being in single figures. The question remains, however, about what will happen to the season’s restart if a play tests positive? The answer, at the time of writing, is that they will be asked to self-isolate for a period of 14 days.
The logic behind the decision is that the measures being put in place will mean that players shouldn’t be able to pass the virus on to anyone else. This will mean that the remaining players and management will still be able to fulfil their fixtures and the season will, all being well, be able to be completed. It will be the most unusual Premier League season ever, but it will be a valid one.