Premier League’s return was very uninspiring and lacked the usual drama chaos and lack of the usual competitiveness.
Football players and fans collectively hold stadium attendance in high demand and it might be felt that the empty the seats, the less significance the match becomes. Fans play a huge role in making the matches interesting and even though there was some artificial noise, it played a little role in making the matches interesting. The spontaneous noises and reactions were missed by the Players.
There was a shortage of goals as the English Premier League officially resumed. It was anticipated that the return would be filled with high energy levels and vigor. That the matches would be chaotic with lots of drama and a little more competitive edge that was almost lacking just before the games were canceled.
The slow start left many fans across the globe disappointed after the high expectations!
Many football and non-football observers remarked that the plodding tempo and turgid fare on offer in the first few matches of Project Restart. Only five of the 22 goals scored came just before half time and the only team that scored more than two goals facing 11 men were Southampton. It is safe to say that the teams were probably proceeding with caution because of the long break and fears of match fitness and the mental imagination of Corona infections.
It is mind-bogging how many matches ended with no fist half goals or very very few first-half goals. Many Premier League managers have employed the high pressing tactic against difficult opponents and this tactic could not work because of the player’s physical fitness. There could be muscle injuries including the most common one – hamstring injury. Tackles per game significantly reduced by a huge margin and this was seen in La Liga, Serie A, and Bundesliga. Most teams appeared to be sitting back and waiting for their moments.
Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspurs provided a perfect example. Both teams sat back most of the times and it was just a passing game between fullbacks, center backs, and midfielders making the wingers and forwards isolated in most minutes throughout the match. Jose Mourinho resorted to a back five which is a very defensive formation and this denied United’s forwards any space or even the chance of smelling the ball. Ole Gunnar resorted to a more attacking set up in the second half to get more attempts and touches on the opposition half and their goal.
Arsenal against Brighton was another significantly boring game with both teams rarely threatening each other. Brighton employed a tight 4-4-2 and this worked effectively against an Arsenal side who prefer attacking from the Central areas. It was a tight match all through with both teams being overly cautious and no chance of risking.
Teams failed to create clear cut chances and failed to convert the little chances created. Players will become sharper and fitter after few matches but it is likely to be a boring few games. The race for the crown was won a long time ago by Liverpool and the only remaining competition is the race for Top 4 and the Relegation race. The entertainment might or might not improve.
Its a wait and see moment for the Premier League.