With the announcement of the Premier League fixtures for the new season last week, attention now turns to the return of live action in just under three weeks from now.
For the fans there is a little while longer to wait before being allowed back into elite football stadiums and along with pre-season games and announcements at this level, it almost felt more accepted than enthusiastic.
Whilst some of this could be attributed to the 2019/20 season finishing less than four weeks ago and then our TV screens have been filled with a month of European action, is it all too much too soon?
One of the summer highlights is the anticipation of the new season’s fixtures arriving in your inbox to be dissected minutely over the course of the following weeks with plans made, tickets booked and train timetables poured over but as it stands now October 3rd is the earliest date people will be making plans for and those capacities are not expected to exceed 50% for at least the first month of the season.
Across the opening weeks, the fixture computer has been kind to keep the fixtures between the perceived top four or six pretty much apart until October. Only the champions Liverpool appear to have drawn the short straw, facing Chelsea and Arsenal in the opening three weeks. An opening day home fixture against newly promoted Leeds could be a baptism of fire for the visitors on their return to the top division but it might also be the ideal time to play rather than mid-November when the Reds could well be in their stride again.
Of the other two promoted sides, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham, both face tough home games against Leicester City and Arsenal, as per Leeds though early season might be the time to play the expected top teams and at least sneak a point into the total. As it showed finishing off last season there is not a great deal of benefit playing at home without a crowd to back you so there is every chance some results will again not go exactly how they would be expected to.
Much will be made of the increased midweek matches needed to fit a full season in with August and the first week of September completely missing off this year’s calendar and with the added pressure of concluding well in advance of the delayed Euro 2020 competition coming next summer there will be a need to fully utilise as many of the squad as clubs can afford to carry.
Any club will do well to avoid a raft of injuries across the year with some players looking at playing nearly non-stop for 12 months from the beginning of the new campaign to the end of international competition and it’s inevitable some will break down more than once and need a rest, this is certainly the time managers and head coaches will earn their money having to balance selecting the best team they can against fitness and injury worries.
As most clubs have been trying to fit in breaks for their players after the season finished in July, there has been little movement for players and few friendlies taking place, especially as foreign travel which nearly all clubs take one way or another hasn’t been the norm this summer.
We all hope the last few months never impact us again in the way that it has across the world and at some point, sooner rather than later everything is as normal as it can be across the football spectrum.
Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37