The English Football Association announced on Friday that all games within the professional pyramid are postponed until at least April 3rd. Whilst everyone recognizes that life is more important than sport, there are bound to be some teams happier than others with the delay – assuming the season does eventually restart. Here we look at who could emerge as the winners and losers.
THE TITLE RACE
To be clear, Liverpool deserves to win the Premier League crown this season and they will. Any betting app on BestAppBet.com predicts the Red to win it. It’s simply a case of when they win it. With that considered, it’s hard to claim there is a true beneficiary of the postponement, but Liverpool is unquestionably the losers.
They’ve been on an incredible journey this season and, had fixtures gone ahead as planned, it was highly plausible that the title, that has evaded their grasp for 30 years, would have been clinched at either their fiercest rivals, Everton, or their nearest challenger, Manchester City.
Now though, who knows. The taste of success will be sweet for the fans regardless of when or how but to have won it at one of the two places mentioned would have been the icing on the cake, which may well not happen now.
THE RACE FOR THE TOP FOUR
There isn’t a black and white loser here but three of the chasing pack – Sheffield United, Wolves and Manchester United – had been in good form prior to the coronavirus outbreak. We’re constantly being told that momentum is a big thing in sport and these teams face a very real prospect of losing that; particularly Sheffield United who have performed well above themselves this season under the guiding hand of Chris Wilder. If they struggle to restart where they left off, then an opportunity could arise for Tottenham.
Spurs had an atrocious start to the campaign but after Mauricio Pochettino was replaced by Jose Mourinho their fortunes picked up and they began to close the gap. Subsequent injuries to key players – particularly Harry Kane and Son Heung Min – forced the North London club to change their approach and their form has suffered.
The delay may well allow Mourinho to get one or two of those players back on the pitch and, if that happens, it could prove the difference between making the Champions League places and not.
THE RELEGATION BATTLE
If you look at Southampton and Newcastle, their managers are probably gutted from the delay to the season. Both have had strange years with Steve Bruce facing fan backlash from day one whilst Ralph Hasenhuttl was on the brink of the sack when Leicester hit his Saints side for nine back in October.
With nine games to go through both clubs are all but safe as their respective gaffers have achieved solid results throughout the season; the postponement won’t necessarily see them drop into the relegation mix, but it could well take the shine off the end of their campaigns.
Elsewhere, realistically, Norwich were going to face a battle against the odds no matter what but the other five teams who are still in danger – Bournemouth, West Ham, Brighton, Aston Villa and Watford – will see the break as an opportunity to regroup and start off the final stint as a mini-season with their confidence restored to neutral. Who will survive? Let’s wait and see.
There you have it, the coronavirus may have stolen the focus off the Premier League for now but if it eventually does return, we’re in for a rollercoaster end to the season and the finale will be one like we’ve never experienced in history.