This Week’s Upcoming Matches
After 100 days, football-starved fans across England are looking forward to the Premier League resuming on Wednesday, 17 June. The two fixtures will finish off game week 29 of the Premier League, with the first set of fixtures having been played at the beginning of March. Villa Park will be empty of fans as Sheffield United restart their attempt to qualify for Europe, in their first season after being promoted from the Championship. While their opponents are looking up, Aston Villa instead are trying to salvage a season that could end in them being dumped back into England’s second tier after only one year in the first one.
The three-month long break has benefited Enda Stevens, the Irish left-back who was substituted in Sheffield’s last two games before football was suspended. Manager Chris Wilder said the Irishman would need a couple of weeks to recover from a tight calf, accomplished during lockdown. Sheffield have a clean bill of health, with their whole squad fit for their first game back.
It’s a similar story for Villa. John McGinn was a standout performer for the Birmingham club. But a fractured ankle in December, coming in a game against Southampton, ruled him out for Villa’s next 15 games. He returns and is set to start in midfield, alongside Marvelous Nakamba. The restart comes too early for a pair of Villa players though, as injuries persist for Wesley, the £22m strike who has scored 5 goals in Aston Villa’s first season in the Premier League for three years, and goalkeeper Tom Heaton, who suffered a knee injury in the same game as Wesley.
Some great offers for the upcoming games;
Villa, languishing in 19th, can escape the relegation zone if they win their game in hand on Wednesday night, while Sheffield can move into 5th, overtaking Manchester United, if they beat the Villans. The game is set to kick-off at 6 o’clock, with the spectacle, if not the sport, looking a little different from the pre-coronavirus days. The game will be broadcast on Sky Sports.
The second game played on Wednesday is between Manchester City and Arsenal. Gunners manager Mikel Arteta will return to the City of Manchester Stadium, where he was assistant manager under Pep Guardiola from 2016 to 2019. The break has allowed players to return to fitness, with Leroy Sane being available for the Citizens, while Kieran Tierney could turn out for Arsenal.
Manchester City’s season is effectively over. They are securely in the Champions League places, though they have been barred from European competition for two seasons following Financial Fair Play violations. The verdict, handed down in February, was appealed by the Manchester club. A decision is expected in July, following a hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport held from 8-10 June.
Arsenal are looking to get their season back on track, following a disappointing first half which saw Unai Emery replaced by Arteta in the dugout. The club was on a good run of form, winning their last 3 league games, before the pause. It helped Arteta match Emery’s record of 4 Premier League wins, in 3 fewer matches played.
Kick-off is at 8 o’clock and fans can watch it on Sky Sports. A full weekend of fixtures follows. The highest-profile game comes as Jose Mourinho hosts his old club with Manchester United visiting Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium.
Potential social post: Premier League actions returns as Manchester City host Arsenal, and Sheffield visit Villa Park. What can you expect?