After exactly 100 days, the Premier League returns from Coronavirus pandemic-enforced suspension to the delight of its worldwide fans. Aston Villa host Sheffield on wednesday before Manchester City and Arsenal complete the night’s double delight.

In truth, this week can be marked with the return of ‘proper’ football despite the Bundesliga returning a month ago, Bayern Munich all-but wrapping up an eighth successive title has taken the shine off the competition in recent weeks. 

There have been more than a number of low-intensity games so far, giving them a proper post-pandemic feel. None more so than the Coppa Italia semi-final between Juventus and AC Milan that I took in last week, asides Cristiano Ronaldo missing a penalty, the local Italian television broadcast did not only sneak in a quick advert during every substitution but also featured a brief halftime interview with Milan goalkeeper Gigi Donnarumma. Certain firsts in my football-viewing experience on TV.

A lot is set to change when the Premier League returns. (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

The return of football provides a level-playing field more-or-less for every team in terms of fitness and preparation. In addition, a big question remains if home advantage would evaporate as in The Bundesliga where home wins have dropped to 21.7% and away wins as high as 47.8% since the lockdown.

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In the midst of artificial crowd noise in an empty stadium, home players lose the familiarity of the atmosphere and a roaring home support. Coaching staff also have to contend with more injuries, especially muscular strains due to the sheer workload after a long period of inactivity.

Although the five allowed substitutes and cooling breaks will help with tiring players it would pertinently impede the momentum of games. On the flipside, there have been a few-too-many late goals in the games so far which favours the teams with more quality and I imagine Pep Guardiola’s star-studded side will probably dish out a few trashings before the season is concluded.

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Will the Premier League lose much of its famous intensity? (AFP via Getty Images)

Form and statistics do go out the window in these circumstances as momentum has been lost and injured players have recovered. It remains to be seen how much the Premier League’s trademark intensity would be affected post-pandemic, meanwhile, the players are chomping at the bit to just get back doing what they do best, and so are we. 

What about the psychological lift to those distressed individuals and families all over the world? Priceless 

Football is back!

Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin
June 16, 2020

Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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