Premier League sides have now had a minimum of one experience of their ‘new normal’, adapting to empty stands and strict hygiene protocols to undertake and complete the season despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
There are also changes to how the sport operates on the field with more substitutions, water breaks, and a packed schedule of games altering managers’ plans.
Yet, for all the disruption, much remained an equivalent as Manchester City kept Liverpool waiting to seal the title and people at the opposite end of the table struggled to pull themselves beyond the relegation zone. AFP Sports looks at five things we learned.
At of the 28 goals scored within the first 12 games, a mere eight have are available the first half as teams slowly get used to their new surroundings.
Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin reflected the feeling of many when he said playing a Merseyside derby against Liverpool with no atmosphere was “a little bit bizarre”.
Players and managers are also wary of spending their energies too early after a three-month layoff and very little time training together to get up to hurry.
Another reason for a glut lately goals might be the impact made off the bench with coaches enjoying more choice than ever before. Each team can make five substitutions with nine reserves on the bench to call on.
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho bemoaned the temporary change will only serve to assist “the powerful clubs” and broaden the gap between rich and poor.
Mourinho made just two changes as Spurs wilted within the final stages against Manchester United, who netted a late equalizer during a 1-1 draw on Friday.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer acknowledged he had “quality players to come on and make a difference” after Paul Pogba’s introduction made an enormous impact, winning the penalty from which Bruno Fernandes leveled.
Frank Lampard’s substitutions also proved pivotal as Chelsea came from behind to beat Aston Villa 2-1, with Christian Pulisic coming off the bench to equalize.
Unnecessary water breaks
That tinkering of the laws is designed to guard player welfare without continuously halting the flow of the sport, but another new feature is doing just that. A water break at the halfway point of every half has been implemented, regardless of what temperature the sport takes place in.
More of an equivalent
Silky football from City, a Merseyside derby stalemate, an Arsenal collapse and defensive calamities for Norwich, Bournemouth, and Villa: the more things change, the more they stay an equivalent.
The city’s title challenge to Liverpool was partly derailed by key injuries to Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte early within the campaign. With a full compliment to now choose between, Pep Guardiola is spoiled for choice as he showed in making eight changes for Monday’s 5-0 thrashing of Burnley.
Liverpool has still not lost a derby in 10 years, but a goalless draw at Goodison was also not so out of the standard. The last three Premier League meetings between the edges at Everton’s home have now did not produce a goal. Aston Villa’s 0-0 draw against Sheffield United is that the only point any of rock bottom four have picked up since the restart as all four fell to damaging home defeats this weekend.
Take a knee takes hold
After a 100-day await the Premier League to restart, it did so on one knee as all players, staff, and referees took a knee before kick-off between Villa and Sheffield United.
Every game so far has followed within the same fashion because the Premier League has sent a strong message around the world in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign, although the start of City’s win over Burnley was marred by an aircraft circling the Etihad Stadium with a banner reading ‘White lives matter Burnley’.
“It’s powerful, it’s given the movement global momentum to stay the conversation going,” former Arsenal striker Ian Wright said of the Black Live Matters campaign. However, the pressure is now on the league to take action rather than make gestures.
The Premier League has so far resisted calls to introduce an NFL style “Rooney rule” that requires teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for senior coaching roles.