We have seen in Germany how home advantage has been negated without crowds, and I am hoping that is replicated in the Premier League with three away teams in our treble this Saturday.
Leicester were involved in the last Premier League game prior to Lockdown and after a thumping 4-0 success over Aston Villa, they will be looking for more of the same away at Watford. The Foxes are enjoying a good season and look booked for a top-four finish as they currently sit in third with a cosy eight-point cushion.
Jamie Vardy has provided the goal output and with 19 in the top flight, he holds a two-goal lead in the race for golden boot honours. Harvey Barnes bagged a brace at Villa Park and he has caught the eye of England manager Gareth Southgate with some impressive performances from midfield, and could very well find himself in England squads very soon. Along with fellow England midfielder of the future James Maddison, City are very attacking and create plenty of chances, and it’s easy to see why they have been so successful this campaign.
The Hornets are one of a number of teams battling to avoid the drop and the race for survival is certainly a fascinating one this year. Their last outing at Vicarage Road saw them achieve their best result of the season as they beat champions-elect Liverpool 3-0. The team have spent most of the season towards the foot after a poor start but improved form in late December and early January saw them finally begin to climb the table. It would appear Watford fans will have to endure a roller-coaster finish to the season however and crucial home fixtures with Southampton, Norwich, and Newcastle may well settle their fate. With the chance of European football and a place in the cup final still at stake, the visitors have plenty of reasons to be excited and full of optimism, and I expect they will be the happier of this pair at full time.
Arsenal face a trip to the coast to play Brighton and really need a win to keep them in the hunt for a top-five finish and a possible European place. The Gunners are often difficult to beat but a frustrating thirteen draws has rather side-tracked their campaign and they are much further adrift than fans would have hoped. They made a disappointing start to the resumption when going down tamely 3-0 at Manchester City on Wednesday. Individual errors and losing David Luiz to a red card didn’t help but they had offered little in attack and must improve to remain in the hunt.
Brighton are in a group of five teams towards the bottom that are separated by just four points and are another club finding it difficult to win, with just one victory in ten PL outings. A run of six draws in those games is frustrating but perhaps reflects the attitude of not wanting to lose rather than pushing for three points. Their remaining fixtures offer cause for alarm too and it would be no surprise to see them in the bottom three ahead of their final three matches. Neal Maupay has been the main source of goals but even he has only recorded eight, and Albion need someone to emerge to save them.
Arsenal can surely only improve on that opening performance and manager Mikel Arteta needs to start Pierre Emerick Aubameyang with Alexandre Lacazette after Eddie Nketiah looked a little lost in Manchester. If nothing else, Arsenal will have used that game to at least sharpen fitness and can be expected to put that horror show behind them with a great chance to get back to winning ways by the seaside.
Wolves are another Midlands club having a tremendous season and they are well-placed to challenge for a top-five berth. They are still in the Europa League and it’s great to see this famous old club back competing in the big time. With only one defeat in their previous eight Premier League games, against champions-elect Liverpool, the Black and Golds were showing the form needed to be involved at the top end and forward Raul Jimenez, with 13 goals, has played a significant role. Wolves may find it hard to keep hold of him during the transfer window but for now hope his goals will continue to keep the team on such a great run of form.
Flying winger Adama Traore has arguably been the player of the season and is involved in everything positive the team produce. Joao Moutinho is also ever so consistent in the engine room and his excellence from midfield continues to be a feature for the club. Interestingly, the return from injury of defensive organiser Willy Boly has helped the rear-guard and it’s now four clean sheets in five since he returned to the fold.
West Ham are one of those clubs who find themselves too close to the relegation trapdoor and with seven losses on home soil this term, it’s been another dissapointing return for their long-suffering faithful. With little room for error, their remaining fixtures look tricky and it may be that a final day showdown with Aston Villa could well decide who falls into the Championship. The Hammers have recorded just one win in nine PL games and could well be facing another three more defeats as the action resumes. Ironically, given their limp home form, the team may well benefit from an empty London stadium as the players have struggled to respond in that arena. Big money signing Jarrod Bowen has yet to make much of an impact although the Lockdown hasn’t helped of course. West Ham will hope this enforced break has revitalised them but a full of confidence Wolves can take advantage to hopefully complete a nice little Saturday treble for us.