The Premier League 2020-21 season has easily been the most unusual season in the history of the competition. ‘Unpredictable’ is probably the most appropriate word when it comes to describing how the season has panned out so far. It has defied all conventional wisdom and continues to deliver surprises after surprises.
Here, we’ll look to decode the reasons for such unpredictability in the Premier League 2020-21 season.
THE COVID-19 SITUATION
There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has had a detrimental impact on society in general and football has suffered its fair share as well. It’s brilliant to have football on the television which is providing pure entertainment and joy to the spectators who are confined to their respective houses. The Premier League needs to be lauded when it comes to how beautifully they have managed to adapt football in a post-Covid world and how all clubs are following the protocols required to keep things running smoothly. There have been a few cases of the outbreak of the virus in different clubs but it hasn’t been enough to stop football from going forward.
There’s no doubt that players coming in and out of the squad on catching the virus has an impact on the rhythm of the squad. Mentally also, it’s been a challenge for everyone involved and their families to keep the show going. Life in a secure bio-bubble takes a toll on a sports person’s mental health and it has become pretty apparent in the past few months across sports.
LACK OF PRE-SEASON
The halt on football in the previous season has made this season more cramped than usual. Most teams who have European commitments as well need to play twice a week and because of the fixture congestion, many managers have asked for the five substitution rule to be followed in the Premier League as well.
Clubs who were involved in theEuropean competitions in the previous 2019-20 season later in the year, barely had any time to have a proper pre-season for the players. The players seemed off the pace in the initial few weeks and that’s when we came across some eyebrows raising results earlier in the season. Most clubs had a disturbed pre-season due to the uncertainty of the pandemic and it has had a major impact on how the season has panned out so far. Teams like Manchester City are just getting back to their best and the lack of pre-season had a lot to do with their initial form.
TEAMS ARE WELL-MATCHED
The Premier League table is so cramped that at the halfway point it seems impossible to decide which team has an edge when it comes to lifting the Premier League. In the previous few seasons, there have always been a couple of standout teams in the Premier League and the rest were well below the standards set by these teams. This season, this hasn’t been the case at all. In the past two years, teams almost needed to have a near-perfect season to win the league but this time around, all teams have been dropping points constantly.
Currently, only just around 10 points separate the table toppers from the tenth-placed team in the points table. This gives you an indication of how tight the balance is in the league, and the Premier League can be won by anyone this time around.
As of January 15, there are 105 active players injured in the Premier League. It’s strange how almost in every match a certain individual picks up a long-term injury. Some teams have been extremely unlucky with constant injuries like Liverpool, Leicester City and Manchester City while others like Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have taken advantage of this. The constant injuries to key Premier League players have made the league open for all and a major reason why there isn’t a runaway leader of the pack as of now.
NO CROWDS IN THE STADIUMS
Football without crowds in the stadium just isn’t the same. It is becoming extremely difficult for the coaching staff to motivate the players to play at the highest level in empty stadiums. Football is played for the fans and it pumps the players up to give it their all for the badge. Many teams use their home ground to their advantage and many times the supporters rally the team together and pressurise the away teams to make mistakes in the games.
The effect of no crowds in the stadiums can be seen pretty evidently with teams like Sheffield United, Leeds United, Crystal Palace, etc. The effect of crowds can also be seen in the Derby games. These heated rivalries just aren’t the same without its loyal and passionate fans singing their lungs out in the stadiums.
The moment when 2,000 supporters were allowed in the stadiums across England, you could see how some performances went up a notch instantly. Imagine what will be the effect when the stadium becomes jam-packed again to its full capacity. We still have a fairly long way to go for that but we can all hope for the world to return to the ‘old normal’ as soon as it’s safe enough.
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