The English Premier League resumes play today following a 100-day absence, with Aston Villa and Sheffield United squaring off behind closed doors at Villa Park.
The state of play: "Sheffield at Villa is emblematic of so many of the Premier League's 92 remaining matches," writes FiveThirtyEight's Terrence Doyle.
- "Most of the division's 20 clubs have just nine matches left to contest, and most have something — whether a relegation scrap or a European dream — left to play for."
- "At the moment, eight points separate fourth-place Chelsea from ninth-place Arsenal; eight points also separate 15th-place Brighton and Hove Albion from 20th-place Norwich City."
- Aston Villa sits in 19th place in the standings and desperately needs every point it can pick up the rest of the way to avoid being relegated.
- Sheffield United is in a battle with five other clubs — including heavyweights Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal — to determine who qualifies for European cup competition in 2020-21.
What they're saying:
"Barely a day will pass before the end of July when there is no soccer at all in England. All of it will be televised. Some of it, for the first time in 32 years, will even be broadcast free-to-air, on the BBC.
"But while the saturation coverage illustrates the scale of the demand, it is through its absence that we have been able to see just to what extent soccer ... has become England's overwhelming obsession, its driving cultural force."— Rory Smith, NYT