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Data: Premier League; Note: Manchester City facing two-year Champions League ban; Table: Axios Visuals

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."

The teams:

  • 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

Go deeper

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."

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Pfizer says COVID vaccine over 90% effective in kids

Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said their COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective at protecting children between the ages of 5 and 11 from symptomatic infections from the virus, according to a study posted online by the FDA Friday.

Why it matters: Pfizer is seeking an emergency use authorization to vaccinate children — one of the last groups of Americans still largely ineligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine.