The Premier League Restart
Updated: Aug 6, 2020
Author: Bryce Lourd
Earlier today the Premier League season officially came to an end. The season most definitely did not disappoint, to say the least. Due to the COVID 19, the games were paused from mid-March all the way up until June 17th. The benefit from that you may ask? There was an abundance of games from June 17th till today, July 26th. Fans like me could wake up almost every day to a match, which was refreshing as it was one of the first major leagues to return.
The biggest storyline of the 2019-2020 EPL season was Liverpool, no question. They ended a massive 30-year title drought with one of the most dominant seasons in the history of the league. Led by the extremely personable Jurgen Klopp, the star powered Liverpool was nothing short of unstoppable. With the 3 headed dragon of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino leading the attack, the Reds offense was constantly a problem for the opposing defense. Not to mention that they also had one of the best defenses in Prem history, led by 2019 Ballon d’or runner up Virgil Van Dijk. The Reds consistently came out with a lineup so star-studded, even All-Star teams wouldn’t be able match up if they tried.
Last Wednesday, the lifer of the club and captain, Jordan Henderson, finally got to lift the Premier League trophy up for the first time in his long career at Liverpool. The celebration was not what it would have expected to be like pre-pandemic, but I can guarantee that the Reds still felt the same pride and joy of winning a trophy.
Shockingly, Liverpool actually won the league with a full month left to play. One may wonder why anyone would watch a sport after a championship has already been crowned, but there is always competition when it comes to these soccer leagues due to the promotion/relegation factor. The most interesting factor, to me, is the race for the Champions League.
The biggest Champions League race was between the back and forth 4th and 5th placed Manchester United and Leicester City. When the Prem. returned, most people thought Leicester was a lock to qualify for the Champions League. In turn, the resumption of the league did not do the Foxes any good as they won two matches out of nine and lost four times including a game where they let in four unanswered goals to a relegation team, Bournemouth. On the other hand, Man. United didn’t lose a game in their return. They won six of their nine matches, tying the other three. It all came down to this morning where the two faced off in a classic Win and You’re In match. The Red Devils came in clutch and prevailed in a 2-0 victory, earning the fourth spot for the Champions League. In turn, the Leicester City Foxes had one of the worst botches in Premier League history.
Who was the star of the Premier League return? None other than the American national, Christian Pulisic, of third placed Chelsea. Moving over from the German club Borussia Dortmund this past summer, expectations were high for the U.S. wonderkid. When the Premier League first began in August, Pulisic had a tough time getting starts, and even minutes, for his new club. There were many reporters doubting his craft, claiming Pulisic “isn’t good enough for the top league in the world.” As a result, he eventually started to perform off the bench and earned himself a starting spot. When the Premier League was put to a pause, Prem fans respected Pulisic, but they didn’t necessarily think he was on the projectile to be a star. At the resumption, he proved everyone wrong.
In the first game back, Pulisic scored in a 2-1 win against Aston Villa. From there, he played incredible soccer the rest of the season. His stats may not seem like it (4 goals, 2 assists during the restart), but he does more than what the basic stats tell you. He creates so much offense for Chelsea. Whether that be setting up the pass that leads to an assist and goal for his teammates or dribbling around a midfielder or defender to start an attack, he just stands out on the pitch. The game that really got me extremely excited was actually just this past week in a 5-3 defeat against Liverpool. He scored and assisted during this game in which both were incredible plays. Liverpool’s backbone had no solution for the American wonderkid. He was a complete problem for the champs and kept Chelsea in the game until the end. Twitter was going absolutely nuts for #22, and he most definitely caught the eyes of the soccer world. He is someone that soccer fans should be extremely excited about, especially Americans, because he represents our country incredibly well, and is changing the dialogue about US soccer every time he goes onto the pitch.
The Premier League restart had so many pros. The additions of fan noise through the TV really made it feel like fans were there, and the games were truly interesting and intense. It was announced this week that the league will be returning September 12th. As a result, the athletes will have an extremely short break. What I can say from that is the fans are extremely excited... I know I am. Liverpool will have a chance to prove to see if their dominance can last, and teams like Chelsea, Man United, Arsenal, and the Wolverhampton Wolves can vie for a shot at a title. There is so much to look forward to, and there is so much to be thankful for from this past season. Soccer’s back, sports are back, and the world finally seems somewhat normal again.