The Premier League returns: Expert predictions on how it will end

With the return of the Premier League imminent, Peter Watton, from matched betting specialists OddsMonkey , takes a closer look at how thing...

With the return of the Premier League imminent, Peter Watton, from matched betting specialists OddsMonkey, takes a closer look at how things might pan out by the (true) end of the season.

On 17th June, football fans will finally get somewhat of a return to normality when the Premier League makes its comeback, albeit with no supporters in attendance. Teams will also be playing to slightly different rules, with nine substitutes on the bench and up to five substitutions allowed, so matches might play out a little differently, too.

However, despite all the distractions, the real question is how will the final Premier League table look once the dust has settled on this season? With nine games to play (ten for some teams) there is still a lot to play for, even if Liverpool have run away with the title. Where will Chelsea finish? Who'll qualify for the Champion's League? Who will be relegated? Let's take a closer look.

Where will Chelsea finish this season?

First, let's address the most important question. Before the league was suspended on 13 March, Chelsea were sitting in fourth on 48 points — three clear of chasing Man Utd, though Sheff Utd have a game in hand that could see them leapfrog the Red Devils. In January and February, the Blues had shown inconsistent form, but a 4-0 victory over Everton on 8 March saw Chelsea sign off for lockdown impressively.

When play resumes, it's hard to say where Chelsea will finish, and it might come down to whether they hit the ground running or not. On one hand, they will be boosted by the return of Kovacic and Pulisic from injury, but they still have to play Man City, Sheff Utd, Liverpool, and Wolves, all of which will be tough games. There's also a chance they may lose Ngolo Kanté due to fears over COVID-19, but he has resumed training with the rest of the squad.

Honestly, I think Chelsea might just nail down that fourth spot. They already have the points cushion and I believe the squad is mentally stronger than Man Utd, and more suited to cope with the aftermath of lockdown. And, if Tammy Abraham can kick on and score goals, given the impending arrival of Timo Werner in the summer, they will also have the firepower.

Who will qualify for the Champion's League?

If Chelsea are going to finish fourth, who else will qualify for the Champion's League? Well, it's key to remember that, as things stand, Man City are banned from next season's competition, so fifth position also means a seat at the big boy's table. So, there's everything to play for and teams as far down as Burnley (10th) and Palace (11th) are only six points behind Man Utd in fifth. It also means that Chelsea can be even more confident of Champion's League football next season.

Looking at that fifth position, Man Utd's toughest games are going to be against Tottenham, Sheff Utd, and Leicester but, on the whole, their run-in is the easiest of the chasing pack. Because of this, I'm pegging them as favourites to hold onto fifth place and sneak into the Champion's League. One team that I think are definitely out of the running are Arsenal, who still need to play Man City and Liverpool this season and are already five points off the pace. They have a game in hand, but I think it's too much of an ask to get results against two superior teams.

Who will be relegated?

For those below Southampton in 14th, the break has been either a blessing or a curse in the rat race to escape relegation. On one hand, you have West Ham and Watford, who will be annoyed that their decent runs of form have been interrupted while, on the other, you have Brighton, who have won just once in 14 games, and Norwich, who are adrift in 20th and looking to regroup and improve.

For Norwich to survive, they would have to pull off one of the all-time great escapes to beat the six-point gap and woeful difference they have. In 19th, Aston Villa are two points from safety with one game in hand on their rivals, but their run-in is one of the most difficult of any relegation candidate. Bournemouth, in 17th, showed some fight before the break, and have few winnable home matches ahead. But, as the Bundesliga has shown, a home match with no fans may as well be an away game, so this advantage might be completely useless.

When the curtain closes in July, I think we'll see the same bottom three as we currently have now — potentially in a different order. I believe Watford and West Ham were just starting to click under their new managers and will carry on their form, while Brighton will scrape together enough points to keep their heads above water. Sorry, Norwich, Villa, and Brighton, I think you'll go down.

With less than a third of the season left, the return of the Premier League will be dramatic from the off. However, while there will be some twists and turns, I don’t think we will see anything massively shocking when the standings are finalised in two months.

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