Project Restart has not been a smooth process by any means, but Premier League games do now look set to return next month.
The latest significant development came on Thursday, when a 17 June resumption date was agreed in principle. All Premier League clubs have also passed proposals for full contact training.
There are 92 matches still to be played in England’s top flight. We have picked out 10 Premier League games we can’t wait to see. These fixtures could all be worth watching when the action gets back underway
Aston Villa v Sheffield United
All but four teams have fulfilled 29 matches. One of two Premier League games – along with Manchester City v Arsenal – set for 17 June in order to bring everyone level on the number of games played is Aston Villa versus the Blades.
This one could have implications at both ends of the table. A home win would move Villa out of the bottom three.
An away triumph, meanwhile, would see Sheffield United climb into fifth place. This could bring a place in the Champions League with it if the Court of Arbitration for Sport upholds Manchester City’s two-season European ban.
Liverpool v Crystal Palace
Champions elect Liverpool require six more points to win the title for the first time since 1990. This 30-year wait was on that nobody could have predicted when Kenny Dalglish’s side lifted the First Division trophy.
Provided the Reds beat Everton in their first game back and that Manchester City also win all their fixtures before this one, Jurgen Klopp’s side will secure the title with victory over Crystal Palace.
A word of warning, though. Palace ruined Steven Gerrard’s farewell party in 2015, winning 3-1 on the Kop idol’s final appearance at Anfield.
Manchester United v Sheffield United
Manchester United are the current occupiers of fifth place, but the Blades have designs on their position.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were on an excellent run before the season was paused in the middle of March, with three wins in their last five games and draws in the other two.
The Red Devils still have a good chance of a top-four finish, and bookmaker odds reflect that. Regardless of what happens to neighbours City with CAS, it would guarantee them Champions League football.
Sheffield United are a tough nut to crack, though, and Chris Wilder’s men will arrive at Old Trafford with no fear after what has been a magnificent season for the promoted side.
Manchester City v Liverpool
When the Premier League games and fixtures were released at the start of the season, this looked like a tantalising encounter that could well decide the title.
Liverpool will probably have already won the race by the time this match rolls around, but it will still be intriguing to watch the top two lock horns once more.
Jurgen Klopp’s crew have still only lost one game all season, but City have outscored the league leaders despite trailing them by 25 points.
Although this heavyweight clash will take place behind closed doors, millions of viewers will enjoy watching the action unfold on TV.
West Ham United v Chelsea
Breaking down opponents who sit deep and deny them space has caused Chelsea problems at times this season, particularly at Stamford Bridge.
Indeed, a 1-0 defeat by London rivals West Ham is a prime example of their difficulties in a certain type of fixture.
The Hammers are battling against the drop, while Chelsea still have work to do to secure a top-four finish. There will be plenty at stake, then, when these two renew hostilities in the coming weeks.
Norwich City v Brighton & Hove Albion
Rock bottom Norwich have earned plenty of plaudits for their performances this term, but Daniel Farke’s side are up against it in their battle to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.
A six-point deficit separates them from 17th place as things stand, although the Canaries will hope that a sequence of winnable home games provides a path to survival.
One such match comes against Brighton, who were in dismal form before the enforced break.
Graham Potter’s side have not won in 2020 and are consequently just two points above the dreaded dotted line. It’s a margin that their supporters will no doubt consider too close for comfort.
Arsenal v Leicester City
Aside from Liverpool, Leicester are the Premier League team who had most to lose if the season was declared null and void.
Brendan Rodgers’s charges thrashed Villa 4-0 in the final game before the campaign was put on hold, and that victory moved them eight points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United.
A Champions League place will almost certainly be theirs at the end of the campaign. Arsenal, who are five points behind United, will not be joining them in Europe’s premier competition unless they can stage a late surge.
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal
Another of the must-see Premier League games is the North London derby. Tottenham are marginally better off than their neighbours, but they too are outsiders for a Champions League spot.
Jose Mourinho’s men failed to win any of their three matches prior to the pause, and are now as close to 14th place as they are to fourth.
North London derbies usually deliver in terms of entertainment, so this will be a must-watch regardless of what is at stake for Spurs and the Gunners.
West Ham United v Watford
The Hornets looked dead and buried after 17 games of 2019-20, but Nigel Pearson has brought them back into contention for survival by winning five of his 13 games at the helm.
Watford are now outside the bottom three on goal difference, although plenty could have changed by the time they travel to the London Stadium.
West Ham are level on points with them ahead of the resumption, making this a bona fide six-pointer. The loser could well be condemned to the Championship.
Chelsea v Wolves
The final contenders for a Champions League spot are Wolves, who are currently five points adrift of Chelsea in fourth.
Nuno Espirito Santo has done a wonderful job at Molineux again this season. He will hope that his team are still in a position to finish in the top four (or five) when they travel to Stamford Bridge on the final weekend.
Chelsea may well have secured their place in the Champions League by then, or they could be out of the race altogether. Either way, this one will probably have something riding on it.