Better off or not? How cancelling the season completely would affect every Premier League club
The Premier League is in two-week suspension, owing to the coronavirus pandemic worldwide. Whilst the ideal scenario is for English football to recommence as soon as possible, some are calling for the season to be nulled and voided.
But does that actually benefit each Premier League club?
Mikel Arteta was the first big name in the Premier League to reveal he had caught coronavirus. The pandemic first postponed the Gunners’ trip to Manchester City, then their game against Brighton, but though Arteta’s side were facing an uphill battle to secure European football next season, an early null and void might not be a saving grace for the club.
Arsenal were the only Premier League side to go unbeaten in the league in 2020. Though reinforcements are still desperately needed, the side were looking far better under Arteta with clear and positive direction. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and/or Alexandre Lacazette could have played their last games for the club - as could Pablo Mari, who was beginning to establish himself in defence. Arsenal had very little to play for anyway - but the rest of the season was a bonus for development.
Would cancelling the season benefit Arsenal? No.
It’s been a tough season at Villa Park - but then it was always going to be, given that so many of the squad left last summer. Aston Villa have faced a number of setbacks over the course of their campaign, losing both Wesley and Tom Heaton to long-term injuries. The squad have bought heavily, have a League Cup final to show for their efforts this season, but ultimately could still go down.
The season being wiped could end up helping Villa. It’s not as if they’ve played awfully this season - individual errors haven’t helped but with the club facing a relegation battle, any scenario that keeps them in a Premier League is a good thing for the club as a whole.
Would cancelling the season benefit Aston Villa? Yes.
This season has been nothing short of a disaster for Bournemouth. Almost everything that could have gone wrong for the south coasters has, starting with David Brooks being ruled out for the season, continuing with a raft of other key players all out injured at some point or another.
The three-week postponement has come as a welcome break for the Cherries. The threadbare squad is exhausted, players are still recovering from injury and despite two rousing consecutive wins against Brighton and Aston Villa, the run-in is difficult and there wasn’t any sign of rest around the corner until now. With a new training ground being built at current, Eddie Howe’s men can at least regroup now.
Would cancelling the season benefit Bournemouth? Yes.
Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton look better under Graham Potter than last season. The atmosphere has improved and they’ve taken big scalps along the way this season, but they’re still in a perilous position. The form hasn’t reflected the feeling - this is a bigger project than many realised.
At least if the season’s cancelled, the development can keep on behind the scenes. A few new recruits are needed at the Amex; Potter’s football is slowly working but this period of reflection might work out nicely for the Seagulls. They were in big danger of the drop, after all.
Would cancelling the season benefit Brighton? Yes.
Arguably the steadiest football club in all of the league, Burnley were 10th when the season was postponed, on a run of eight games without defeat. Now, Sean Dyche has admitted that the club could lose the likes of Dwight McNeil, and given that the gap between Burnley and the Champions League was just six points, it seems like this is more of an unwelcome distraction than useful time off.
Burnley were due to welcome Johann Gudmundsson and Ashley Barnes back to the fore too. There was a good chance that they could have mounted a late assault for the Europa League.
Would cancelling the season benefit Burnley? No.
What was supposed to be a transition season for Chelsea has actually turned out to be an impressive campaign for Frank Lampard, with the Blues in the last-16 of the Champions League and still in the top four by March. But while the break means no developmental game time of the likes of Mason Mount, Reece James and Calum Hudson-Odoi - the latter of which tested positive for COVID-19 - it’s perhaps a good thing for Chelsea’s season overall.
Lampard’s side have been unpredictable at best this season. Toppling Liverpool from the FA Cup and doing the double over Spurs has been countered by losses to West Ham and Bournemouth. Chelsea are at the start of a journey, adding Hakim Ziyech in the summer and are already in the Champions League. They shouldn’t be too devastated if the season’s called off.
Would cancelling the season benefit Chelsea? Yes.
Crystal Palace had won their last three heading into the postponement, including the derby against Brighton. Not only could Palace fans have possibly seen Wilfried Zaha in red and blue for the final time now, they already have their record Premier League tally of points - with two months still left to play.
The Eagles are arguably due a rebuild. A new striker is almost certainly on the cards for a start, but Palace weren’t having a bad season and it would be a shame if they don’t get to finish it, especially given the momentum they were building of late.
Would cancelling the season benefit Crystal Palace? No.
Everton need to recruit this summer but this early finish doesn’t do them any favours. If they end the season without a win in three, it stops the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Mason Holgate - who were developing nicely in their roles - in their tracks and it prevents Carlo Ancelotti from refining the side a little more. At least if the season ends now though, Richarlison can’t play himself into form for a summer move.
Everton have had a mixed bag of a season. While some will be glad to see the back of it though, ending the campaign with a 4-0 spanking away to Chelsea doesn’t feel good. Things have been a lot better in recent weeks at Goodison Park and Ancelotti’s vision for what Everton will become was starting to take shape - ending the season would set them up nicely for next.
Would cancelling the season benefit Everton? No.
Brendan Rodgers will be seething if Leicester are denied anything from this fantastic campaign. Not only are they third in the table, but the Foxes have been riding on Jamie Vardy’s early-season form for a while now - they only had nine more matches to ride out and remain in a great position for Champions League football, before some big summer signings were potentially made on the back of this season.
If the season is cancelled? Caglar Soyuncu could head out the door, as rumoured - and traditional 'bigger clubs' are already targetting Ben Chilwell, Ricardo Pereira and James Maddison. This break come at a worse time for Leicester - all form considering - but denying them a season in which they were 3rd? That would be a bitter pill.
Would cancelling the season benefit Leicester? No
Imagine you’ve waited 30 years for your side to lift a league title. Three decades of slips, 6-1s at Stoke and even a 95-point season that still somehow wasn’t enough.
Imagine your team drops four points all season, are by far and away the best in the land, are poised to break a number of Premier League records, and have a good shout to be declared one of the best sides ever... only they don't win the league at all. They are denied a 19th league title by a freak pandemic; a futuristic disease that forces your fans, your club and your rivals all into hiding, to laugh from the corners of the internet at your misfortune.
COVID-19, Liverpool 18. That’s what the Reds are facing. Whatever Jurgen Klopp says, it would be utterly heartbreaking if the story ended now.
Would cancelling the season benefit Liverpool? No.
This has been Pep Guardiola’s worst ever season, statistically. Being over 20 points off Liverpool has called into question not just his management and recruitment but a few of the players. Manchester City are due a rebuild and if the season ends now, they could do that - and go again to defend their title next season without the distraction of Champions League football.
But should City be hoping for an early close to the season? Absolutely not. It denies them a send-off to club legend David Silva. If they held off Real Madrid at home, they’d be one of the best sides left in the Champions League. And if the European ban does hold up, how much longer will fans get to watch Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva or Raheem Sterling with no Champions League to keep them at Eastlands? It’s been a bad season for Pep but things were just turning the corner before COVID-19 struck.
Would cancelling the season benefit Manchester City? No.
Manchester United are another one of those sides that were just about turning over a new leaf before the season stopped abruptly. Bruno Fernandes was proving his worth, Anthony Martial was looking good and the Red Devils were into the next round of the Europa League. But the season were to end now, would United be that bothered?
OIe Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were making strides but there’s still work that needs to be done, on and off the field. Sorting out the Paul Pogba situation in downtime would be great, Marcus Rashford’s rehabilitation could now proceed without a rush for him to be back - especially with the news of Euro 2020 being pushed back - and with a couple more signings this summer, the club will be even better placed for next season.
Having said that, they are in prime position to claim the final Champions League spot (though only through Sheffield United having played a game less). That might well make the rest of the season worth it.
Would cancelling the season benefit Manchester United? Yes. Or no.
xG may well be a joyless phrase sucking the passion and unpredictability out of the beautiful game - but it hates Newcastle. They’ve ridden their luck at times this season and for an owner who is seemingly content with just remaining in the division every year, it’ll be a disappointment to Mike Ashley that every term can’t end after the Magpies hit enough points to stay up.
But that’s not what’s best for the club. Newcastle are all but out of the relegation mire and Joelinton, Almiron and the Longstaffs aren’t getting any better sitting in isolation. Newcastle have endured the hardships this campaign and with safety all but secured, there was an opportunity for the side to build a little momentum, put together a run until the end of the season and play themselves into form heading into the summer. If that’s taken from them, they could look especially rusty when next season eventually comes.
Would cancelling the season benefit Newcastle? No.
Norwich are all but relegated and yet their stars are being sought after by some of the top sides in the league - Todd Cantwell, Max Aarons, Emi Buendia and Ben Godfrey are all wanted by other clubs. Teemu Pukki could potentially suit a midtable side, too.
If this were a Football Manager save, Daniel Farke would be tempted to Exit Game and start again. He’s got some good players and the backing of his board - if this twist in fate ends up giving Norwich another transfer window and a second bite of the cherry in the Premier League, Canary prayers will have been answered.
Would cancelling the season benefit Norwich? Yes.
Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United side are another one of those surprise packages that are far better placed up in the table that any of us expected. History tells us that the teams who jump highest fall furthest and that the empire that Wilder’s building could all come crashing down - it would be catastrophic if the Blades’ season were to be voided, right?
Yes, it would be awful if this season were to have all been for nothing. But not because of where it would leave them next year - Wilder’s a top manager, this team have been fantastic and everyone at Bramall Lane will be fine either way. It would be a shame because Sheffield United deserve to finish this campaign. It’s been great.
And currently, they're only two points off the Champions League with a game in hand...
Would cancelling the season benefit Sheffield United? No.
Southampton are another club who have had a bizarre season. It started abysmally, then picked up – but now the Saints have only won two games since beating Leicester in January. They’re not mathematically safe from the drop just yet and it looks like they’re in the midst of another patchy run.
Like a number of other teams in the league, playing themselves out of this downturn could be good for them. There are a number of players who could do with a confidence boost and they’re unlikely to go down. But equally, drawing a line under this season could be best for everyone. Ralph Hassanhuttl needs new names. He’s shown he’s building something promising in the last few months - Southampton backing him over a long summer and coming back with renewed vigour could do the club some good.
Would cancelling the season benefit Southampton? Yes.
One of two teams to call for the season to be nulled and voided, it’s pretty obvious why Tottenham would want to end proceedings early. Not only are Son and Kane sidelined, but new signing Steven Bergwijn is too. Spurs’ ground is hosting concerts from Lady Gaga and Anthony Joshua’s fight with Kubrat Pulev this summer too - COVID-19 permitting - so there’s a conflict there, too.
The end of the season can’t come early enough for Spurs. They’re in another slump under Jose Mourinho and the atmosphere is just starting to sour, following Eric Dier’s rampage into the crowd after the FA Cup loss to Norwich, and a flaccid defeat in Europe to Leipzig. They’re welcome of a break either way - but most fans will surely be hoping this season doesn’t rear its head again.
WOULD cancelling the season benefit Spurs? Yes.
If there’s one thing Vicarage Road could do with, it’s stability. Three managers have led the side since August and the campaign has been split between the scintillating and the shocking. With Gerard Deulofeu out of action now and Abdoulaye Doucoure one of the more in-demand players from sides facing the drop, now would be a great time for Watford to regroup and assess.
If Watford are serious about Nigel Pearson managing in the long-term, an extra-long summer would be a great time to recruit new players and strengthen. If not, they’ve sacked managers for far less. Either way, survival is not yet guaranteed.
Would cancelling the season benefit Watford? Yes.
West Ham United
West Ham are in the same quandary - stadium-wise - as Spurs, and having an equally dreadful season. Their run-in is dreadful and they’re 16th in the league with 27 points. No wonder the club are desperate to cancel the campaign.
The results haven’t been coming their way but ironically, they’re looking better in recent weeks with Michail Antonio, Sebastien Haller and new signing Jarred Bowen all clicking together. The feeling of beating the drop this season would be more valuable than voiding the hard work they put in since Christmas, but that’s a big “if”.
Does cancelling the season benefit West Ham? Yes.
Wolves are two wins off fourth - in a league in which the top four seem to be tripping over themselves trying not to collect three points - and going strongly in Europe. Why would they want this season to end?
Nuno Espirito Santo will have a big job to keep Adama Traore for another year and improve on his already well-oiled machine. They’ll probably be just as strong next year but given that they still have a lot to play for this season, Wolves are hoping that time isn’t called on the campaign just yet.
Does cancelling the season benefit Wolves? No.
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