And just like that, the Premier League is back.
This coronavirus pandemic has warped time, with the league finishing only over a month ago.
Because of that short turnaround time, and because of the absence of fans for the next while, it’s really tough to make predictions.
But I’ll give it a go anyway.
Here’s how I see the Premier League table in May 2021.
Let’s kick off with the title contenders.
We all get that the Premier League can be hella unpredictable, but can you really see any teams other than Liverpool and Man City challenging for the title? I don’t, as much I want to.
These two outfits are on another level compared the rest of the league.
They have driven coaches in Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, who keep the players motivated to make sure they reach the level of performance to leave the rest of the pack in the rearview mirror.
These two teams have hit the highest points totals in the
history of the league in the last three seasons.
So are we really gonna argue?
But who will come out on top?
With both teams not making serious alterations, there is the fear that they will lose some of their steam.
Last season, Liverpool played like men possessed, snatching wins from damned positions.
But will they be able to summon that sort of spirit and energy that fuels Klopp’s heavy-metal game?
After such a short turnaround, that’s the only question hanging over this team.
At City, I wrote off their title defence last season when key defender Aymeric Laporte was sidelined for most of the season.
With only Nathan Ake coming into the backline and young Eric Garcia keen to force his way back to Barcelona, Pep had better land Kalidou Koulibaly.
Defence cost them big time last term, but they still boast the best attacking stats in the league.
Raheem Sterling and company will just have to hou kop in the big games when the pale are oop.
The battle for the top four has become the battle for the top six now.
With clubs investing heavily, the competition is tighter.
And if you’re not fighting for the title, landing a Champions League spot is as good as gold, with Europa League seen as a ticket to the big time too.
Chelsea, of course, have spent more money in a transfer window than any Prem club before and will want to be in the title contender conversation.
Too bad for coach Frank Lampard that winning the league isn’t as easy as spending £250m.
If the new faces don’t hit the ground running and the coach can’t sort out his defensive problems, then you can’t ask billionaire owner Roman Abramovich to park his yacht in front of goal.
Thiago Silva, 35, came in free and only Cesar Azpilicueta is reliable at the back.
Coupled with a £71m goalkeeping problem in Kepa, a repeat of third place is the best they can hope for.
Manchester United have left it late in the market and after scraping into the top four, they are in danger of being caught by the teams behind them.
I guess if you get a record number of penalties awarded, like they were last season, that helps.
But there are questions around goalkeeper David de Gea, who is competing with young Dean Henderson.
Bruno Fernandes and new boy Donny van de Beek will add more thrust from midfield.
But having signed Bruno as a replacement for unsettled Paul Pogba, the problem is who will do the donkey work and who will run the show?
The same goes for Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
Not too long ago, United were backing one of them to pull a rabbit out of a hat.
They’d attack from anywhere, but now they will have to learn to be in the right place at the right time – having a job can be tough for an artist.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have looked like the opposite of United.
Less free-wheeling, the Gunners are more disciplined and ruthless when taking their chance, with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang showing the rest of the squad how it’s done. But he needs more help in front of goal.
Coach Mikel Arteta has done a lot in his short time in charge, taking the team back to basics.
They will need to build on that confidence to become a side with more flair, as they seem very deliberate in what they do.
Willian, Dani Ceballos and Mesut Ozil, if he plays, will be key to their creativity.
After missing out on Champions League football for the fourth season running, that has got to be the target.
They’ve been busy in the transfer market strengthening their defence, with new boy Gabriel Magalhaes arriving and promising teen William Saliba returning from loan.
Tottenham also had a strong finish to the season, which will encourage their fans.
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Matt Doherty add some more trademark Jose Mourinho
These are manne Jose can trust and we know how important that is to the Special One.
But with the bulk of the squad still very much former boss Mauricio Pochettino’s crew, a few more will walk the plank before Mourinho has his team.
As long as Harry Kane and Heung-min Son stay fit, Spurs should have nothing to worry about and play in a European competition next season.
Leicester, Everton and Wolves will all be looking to gatecrash this party, and just like Sheffield United did last season, new boys Leeds United under Marcelo Bielsa are expected to show the league what they can do.
Relegation? Cheers West Brom, Aston Villa, Fulham, see you guys in May.