Details of Premier League's Return Come Further Into Focus

The Premier League's return is imminent, and the pieces are still coming together for how the league will finish off its 2019-2020 season after a lengthy suspension.
Publish date:

In less than two weeks, barring any complications, the Premier League will be back. 

Liverpool will continue its quest to win a first top-flight domestic title in 30 years, the race for the Champions League places will go on and the congested bottom six will look to stave off relegation.

Those to-be-completed storylines have been constants as long as the league has maintained its wish to come back from the shutdown brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, but exactly what the league will look like as a product has remained a work in progress. It's not fully done and dusted just yet (much like RB Leipzig star Timo Werner's reported move to Chelsea), but some pieces have fallen into place:

The fixture list

The sliver of the first set of games has trickled out, including the Merseyside derby where Liverpool could clinch the title. The Reds can take matters into their own hands by securing six more points, but should Manchester City lose to Arsenal in one of the two June 17 matches that will kick off the league's return, then it'd all be there for the taking for Liverpool on June 21.

A leaked U.K. TV schedule was confirmed by the Premier League on Friday and has given more insight into a selection of the fixture list through the 32nd matchday (all clubs except four have played 29 games thus far):

Wednesday, June 17 

Aston Villa vs Sheffield United

Manchester City vs Arsenal

Friday, June 19 

Norwich City vs Southampton 

Tottenham vs Manchester United

Saturday, June 20 

Watford vs Leicester City

Brighton vs Arsenal 

West Ham vs Wolves

Bournemouth vs Crystal Palace

Sunday, June 21 

Newcastle vs Sheffield United 

Aston Villa vs Chelsea 

Everton vs Liverpool 

Monday, June 22 

Manchester City vs Burnley 

Tuesday, June 23 

Southampton vs Arsenal 

Tottenham vs West Ham 

Wednesday, June 24 

Manchester United vs Sheffield United 

Newcastle vs Aston Villa 

Norwich City vs Everton

Liverpool vs Crystal Palace

Thursday, June 25 

Burnley vs Watford 

Leicester City vs Brighton 

Chelsea vs Manchester City 

Wolves vs Bournemouth 

Sunday, June 28 

Aston Villa vs Wolves 

Watford vs Southampton 

Monday, June 29

Crystal Palace vs Burnley

Tuesday, June 30 

Brighton vs Manchester United

Sheffield United vs Tottenham

Wednesday, July 1 

Bournemouth vs Newcastle 

Everton vs Leicester City 

West Ham United vs Chelsea 

Thursday, July 2 

Arsenal vs Norwich City

Manchester City vs Liverpool

Liverpool is looking to win its first title in 30 years

In-game changes

As has been adopted by the Bundesliga, the Premier League announced Thursday that it is taking the International Football Association Board up on its temporary amendment to the Laws of the Game and allowing for five substitutes per team per match instead of the customary three. Those moves can only be made in three increments, so those expecting Jose Mourinho to scheme and use five individual substitutes in stoppage time can move on to a different topic.

With the expanded substitutions comes expanded matchday squads. Clubs can feature nine players on the bench in uniform, instead of the usual seven. Given the sprint to the finish line for the remaining games of the season, managers will surely make use of the expanded squads and added in-game flexibility in order to keep players fresh and to avoid injury.

Neutral venues

The use of neutral venues for select matches has reportedly been approved, with clubs voting on the contentious issue on Thursday. It's unspecified as to what specific matches will be getting that treatment, though Liverpool's first few matches are reported to be candidates, with authorities not trusting the club's fans to remain socially distanced and restrained enough while celebrating what appears to be an inevitable title.

No punishment for protests

After FIFA signaled its support for players in the Bundesliga who have showed signs of solidarity after the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, the English FA followed by echoing the sentiments and giving Premier League players the platform to follow suit. 

“Where any behaviors or gestures on the pitch that may constitute a breach of the laws of the game have to be assessed, they would be reviewed on a case by case basis with a common sense approach and understanding of their context,” the FA said in a statement. “The power of football can break down barriers across communities and we remain deeply committed to removing all forms of discrimination from across the game we all love."

A number of clubs have already shown support, with Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle posting photos of teams in training taking knees. Manchester United's Paul Pogba and Newcastle's DeAndre Yedlin are among the many individual players to speak out publicly, while Yedlin and Chelsea and U.S. star Christian Pulisic appeared in a powerful and graphic video featuring a number of other U.S. internationals titled, "Enough Is Enough."