This is how the Premier League season could be saved after Coronavirus

The Coronavirus continues to stop life as we know it and as a consequence that means no football. There has been talk by the FA in England that the Premier League could resume on the weekend of June 13th. But that is a best case scenario.

To add to the problems is that for many clubs there are still 9 games to be played and yet UEFA have stipulated that they would like domestic seasons to be completed by July 31st so they could then dedicate the month of August to the Champions League and Europa League.

The top leagues in England seem to be waiting for one reason only and that is the amount of money that is at stake that would be lost this season to TV companies. It is in the region of £700m, that’s what it would cost the FA if they voided the top leagues. Lower leagues have already been declared void and null. In Belgium the league season was brought to an end. The Dutch Erdevisie could close down their league and in Scotland a voting process is taking place to end the season.

So what is the best option for the Premier League?

As time goes on and the PM of England Boris Johnson states that a 2nd wave of the virus could emerge it looks more and more likely that the current season will be voided. If that is announced the problem is over and the next season could start later in the year. Or there is another way, which would be to stop the league season and end it with play off games.

First up Liverpool should be declared winners of the league. They are 25 points clear with 9 games to go, let’s face it the league is over as far as the title winners go. Liverpool had hit some poor form by their standards just before the virus hit but they are not going to lose 8 of their 9 games after losing just one in a year. Not going to happen. Currently Jurgen Klopp’s team need just 2 wins to wrap up their first league title in thirty years.

In the name of gamesmanship one could conclude that Liverpool deserve their title, and if the season was to restart it would only be a matter of time before they would have won it. So let’s give them the title and leave them out.

Next up is Manchester City who are in 2nd place. On account of them being 12 points clear of 5th and very unlikely on losing a top 4 place with the quality the reigning champions have at their disposal they should also be left out of a play off place and should qualify for the Champions League. Of course all of that depends on their appeal with UEFA over an earlier sanction which could see them lose it anyway, but that is an argument for another day.

In an ideal world then, to see who will take up the other 2 places of the Champions League we could have a play-off which would take in teams placed from 3rd to 6th (4 places). 3rd Leicester would play 6th placed Wolves and 4th Chelsea would play 5th placed Manchester United. The two teams who win qualify for the Champions League. Matches could be played behind closed doors as a one off game at Wembley Stadium, with heavy policing outside to stop the congregation of fans.

Of course the likes of Sheffield United in 7th place would feel unjust given that only goal difference separates them from Wolves. Tottenham who are 2 points behind Wolves and Arsenal who are three points would probably feel that they had a good run in chance to compete, but at the end of the day if the league is not abandoned then cut off places are needed. Those teams from 7th to 10th would then go into a play off anyway to determine who plays in the Europa League.

As for relegation Norwich are bottom, but are just six points from safety and with 27 left on the board for them it would seem unfair to just relegate them. So why not a play off?

This is where things could get very heated as it would feel unfair if say the bottom three of the Premier League played off against the top 3 of the Championship who would have felt they have earned their right to have the chance to play in the Premier League. The next objective then would be to have the bottom three of the Premier League play off against the next 3 clubs in the league positioned in 17th, 16th and 15th places. The team in 15th which is currently Brighton are after all just 2 points clear of the relegation zone. But it is evident that those clubs would complain about being rounded up into a play off for survival.

The games would be incredibly exciting though, and for most would amount to a fair way of ending the season. Instead of having to play out another 100 league games, the season could be decided in 9 games.

To some it might sound fair and to others very unjust, but at this time it almost feels like play-offs could be the perfect option for a very troubling and complex moment.

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Man Utd: Why the winter break has come at a perfect time for the club and the manager

With the new rule of the winter break kicking into place within the Premier League, Manchester United are one of the many clubs that will have a two week rest and a recovery period until their next league game. Given the side’s results in January, picking up only three points out of a potential 12, majority of the United supporters would agree that this break has come as a blessing in disguise.

With the league defeats to the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Burnley as well as being kicked out of the EFL Cup semi-finals to the noisy neighbours in Manchester City, there hasn’t been many enjoyable moments for United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last month. However, the arrivals of Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo will have some people excited and looking forward to the final months of the season, as the side are still in the FA Cup, Europa League and six points away from top four.

Focusing a little bit on Bruno and Ighalo, this 14-day break will give them a lot of bonding and connecting time to get to know one another as well as the rest of the players in the dressing room, who will be more than glad to see that they have a new playmaker and a new striker to work around for the rest of the season. Having only scored four goals in their last five league games, with all of them coming at home to Norwich, the side’s creativity and goals have instantly dried up since the unfortunate injury to Marcus Rashford.

As the first week of the two-week winter break has come to an end, Solskjaer and the full squad have spent a number of days doing intense training in the warm weather in Spain as they look to improve their concentration and focus levels before they take on the final months of the season. And on top of that, the good news is that Scott McTominay has returned from injury whilst Paul Pogba is taking small steps to recovery.

The break should give the manager some time to think of a more effective plan as well as a useful backup idea, as the current system and tactics are simply not working at all, with the side in eight place within the Premier League and are six points behind fourth-place Chelsea. They actually take on Frank Lampard’s men straight after the winter break is over, and if they do not take the three points away from the Stamford Bridge, then they should consider their hopes of finishing in the top four completely over.

To be brutally honest, the side’s chances of achieving Champions League football for next season through a top four finish is very, very low, as the team have already dropped a lot of points away from home and still have the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur to play from now till the end of the season. However, the team have their only hope of success through the Europa League, a competition they have previously won in the 2016-17 campaign under Jose Mourinho.

Then again, the quality in the Europa League has increased massively in recent years, as well-known teams such as Ajax, Inter Milan and Sevilla, are in the knockout stages of the competition and are hoping to do their all to get to the finals. Also, the quality and squad depth that United had when they previously won the Europa League compared to what they have now is a massive decline itself, as the lack of options in the squad leaves the manager with no choice but to use the players from the academy setup.

Overall, if the players and most importantly the manager, are not able to turn it around, then it will be another a difficult summer for everyone that is at the football club, as Manchester United continue to fall further and further behind from their main rivals in Liverpool and Manchester City. And not only that, but another season without a top four finish and another year where a managerial change has to take place, will have the Old Trafford faithful questioning what is actually happening to the club and when will the decline come to an end.

Lazio won’t win the Scudetto – but that doesn’t mean their herculean efforts don’t deserve celebration

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Lazio’s win over Juventus on Saturday was a statement.

Coming from behind to become the first team to beat Maurizio Sarri’s side this season certainly peaked the attention of any dozy onlookers who hadn’t noticed the momentum building on the blue side of Rome.

The result spoke volumes about the progress this team is making. And it spoke loudly.

It said that Simone Inzaghi’s side are no flat-track bullies, that this is a team capable of beating anyone on their day.

It said that the days of flopping on the big occasion, of failing to respond to adversity, of choking at crucial moments, are behind them. Continue reading

Lazio’s sensational form is no coincidence – they’ve fixed two long-standing issues

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Nothing beats a late winner.

That’s what Lazio have learned lately, most recently when Felipe Caicedo swivelled his hips and fired a shot into the bottom corner to snatch victory at Sassuolo last weekend.

It was a crucial goal, one that saw the capital club pull two points clear of Roma and Cagliari in third place and continue their outstanding domestic form with a fifth consecutive Serie A victory.

But after the dust settled, there was another great positive to take from the game. Continue reading

Lazio don’t need a change of coach – but they do need their coach to change

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It would’ve been painful, if it wasn’t so predictable.

As Christopher Jullien flew through the Glasgow night sky towards an inswinging corner, every Lazio fan knew what was coming before it happened.

The Lazio defence stood gazing in admiration at the defender as he rose. Bang. 2-1 Celtic. One minute to go. Inevitable.

It was the third time this season that Lazio have blown a 1-0 half time lead to lose 2-1, after similar debacles against Cluj and SPAL.

When they’re not doing that, they’re coming from behind twice and missing a stoppage time penalty to draw with Bologna, or mounting a frankly ridiculous comeback from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with Atalanta. Continue reading

Rare Lazio comeback produces more questions than answers ahead of trip to Celtic

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The contrast was startling.

After a drab, eventless first half in a must-win Europa League fixture against Rennes on Thursday, Simone Inzaghi turned to his bench early in the second.

He made a double substitution, bringing on rested star men Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in the hope of injecting some life into his team’s performance.

The strategy didn’t get off to the best of starts when the hosts almost immediately conceded the opening goal, but it soon paid off as Alberto set up Milinkovic-Savic for the opener before the Serbian’s cross found the head of Ciro Immobile to complete the comeback. Continue reading

So much for ‘Year Zero’: Like a moody teenager, presumptuous Lazio refuse to learn lessons

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Old habits die hard. But what if they refuse to die at all?

That, sadly, appears to be the reality facing Lazio after a week in which a familiar trait reared its ugly head twice in the space of five days.

In mirror-image matches, Lazio took the lead away to technically inferior sides, SPAL in Serie A and Cluj in the Europa League, before whimpering to a pair of 2-1 defeats.

Technically inferior they may be, but those teams taught Simone Inzaghi’s men a lesson in the importance of desire and character.

But what’s the point in even attending lessons if you’re not going to learn? Continue reading

Top La Liga Strikers in 2018/19: Wissam Ben Yedder

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Wissam Ben Yedder has just finished his 3rd season with Sevilla and it was his personal best yet as he helped the team to finish in the top six and qualify for the Europa League next season.

There were improvements in all of Ben Yedder’s game this past season and at 28 his best years could still be ahead of him.

Before this season Ben Yedder had never scored more than 11 goals in La Liga but he managed 18 and on top of that he assisted in another 9 goals, meaning that he contributed to 27 of Sevilla’s league goals. Overall Ben Yedder earned 91 points finishing just 2 points behind Barcelona’s Luis Suarez.

Ben Yedder started the season very slowly earning zero points from his first two games. And then against Levante where Sevilla were away from home, everything changed. The match finished 6-2 to Sevilla and Ben Yedder was the man of the match as he scored a hat-trick and assisted in another goal, with bonus points he earned 16 points in one game.

Another match that should be highlighted came in March when Sevilla now at home beat Real Sociedad 5-2. It was another hat-trick that earned Ben Yedder 14 points and so in those two games alone, even though they were months apart he was able to acquire 30 points.

Ben Yedder’s most consistent period during the season was in December and over the Christmas and New Year period where the striker scored points in five consecutive games totalling 15 points. And his worse single game of the season came against both Celta Vigo and Real Valladolid where he earned -1 point as he was booked in both games. Indeed while some players worst points is -3 or -5 points or more, to have the lowest points at -1 is actually decent and it only happened twice during the season when his points dipped into the minus category. This is due in part to the fact that he wasn’t sent off this season and was booked only 3 times.

In the last 4 games of the season, 3 of them ended with zero points which was disappointing. But the forward made up for it a little in Sevilla’s last game of the season which ended in a 2-0 win at home to Athletic Bilbao and Ben Yedder scored and made an assist in that game.

This season Ben Yedder would have cost you 7m to have in your team but he has just had his best season for Sevilla. In his debut one he earned 54 points, last season that was just 39 and now a massive 91 points, so his fee may rise for next term.

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Five points to take away from a season of triumph and torment at Lazio

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Lazio’s campaign of highs and lows concluded with the latter on Sunday when Simone Inzaghi’s side lost 3-1 at Torino to finish the Serie A campaign in eighth place.

It was the Roman club’s worst league finish in three years and topped off a season of startling inconsistency.

The joy of a 3-0 win over Roma and an impressive 1-0 victory away to Inter was in stark contrast to lifeless performances that resulted in damaging defeats to the likes of Genoa, SPAL and above all the unforgivable 2-1 loss at home to already-relegated Chievo over Easter weekend.

The Coppa Italia triumph gave the campaign a huge lift, raising spirits and securing Europa League qualification for next season. Continue reading