Fifty Digital’s Premier League Countdown
The Premier League is back! In just five days, a hiatus of more than three months will finally come to an end, as Aston Villa take on Sheffield United on Wednesday evening before a mouthwatering clash between Arsenal and Manchester City.
The Fifty Digital team are struggling to contain their excitement, and there are varying thoughts and opinions flying around the (virtual) office as the clock counts down. Here’s how a few of the team are feeling about the restart and their team’s chances heading into next week’s fixtures…
There’s already a sense of optimism about the future at Stamford Bridge, not least due to the imminent arrivals of Hakim Ziyech and – by all accounts – Timo Werner. But the key for the remainder of the season is securing a top-4 finish. We should have a few players returning to fitness, including fan favourite Ruben Loftus-Cheek, whose reintroduction will be helped by the entire league lacking true match fitness.
Matches away at Leicester and Sheffield United make me nervous, but given the lack of home support for them, I have faith we can pick up points there and pip our rivals (especially Man United) to that 4th spot. Fancy a bet on who finishes higher, Adam?
Adam (Manchester United)
Man United? Where to start. Without sounding like a moaning myrtle, I don’t think I’ve ever been completely confident in our squad, form or club since Fergie left. That being said, it’s probably the most excited I’ve been in a long time. Ole’s signings look like proper Man United signings, our academy players are showing they can compete, and of course, there’s the much spoken about Bruno x Pogba partnership (before the inevitable Jadon Sancho arrival in the summer, obviously).
I’ve got to be optimistic, and I think Leicester have a tricky run in, so I’m going for a third-place finish. In other words, Ben, it’s a deal.
The break did not come at an ideal time. We were on a run of strong results (I had high hopes we’d manage to finish above Spurs) but are notoriously slow starters after a break. Coupling that with the tough run of games we have left, the odds aren’t in our favour. A shot at Champions League qualification may be slightly out of reach, but we’re still in the FA Cup so the dream of ending the season with some silverware is still in sight.
The Arteta era starts properly next week, and he has to get the most out of young talents like Nelson and Saka. Without European football next year, our ability to build a better squad for the future will be significantly hampered.
Jim (Leicester City)
Before the break, we’d regained some of our pre-Christmas form with Wilfried Ndidi coming back from injury, and third place seemed relatively comfortable. The tough run-in we’re facing will be a good chance to prove we’re worthy of a return to the Champions League next season, but with Pereira picking up a severe knee injury it looks like Man United will close the points gap, which makes for an exciting final game against them at home.
Fortunately, supporting Leicester gives you a sense of “bring it on” rather than worry as we’ve already surpassed expectations this season, and nobody is expecting anything of us – least of all the fans. I predict we’ll come good and hold on to 3rd place at the end of the season. And yes, we’ll beat United at home.
Tom (Newcastle United)
Whilst a lack of football action over the last few weeks has left newspapers without the usual match debating points to fill the back pages, the Toon have been front and centre with their ongoing Saudi takeover saga. Who knows whether this deal will finalise, but it has given many fans a feeling of optimism about what the future ambition of the club could look like with some significant investment (and without Mike Ashley!).
As for on the pitch, our up-and-down season means we find ourselves in 13th and 8 points off Europe. The majority of our remaining games are winnable, but could a final push into Europe be too much to ask this season? Probably. But that doesn’t stop me hoping!