PL preview: Internationals forgotten until March, the Covid-19 fall out and games of the weekend

The Premier League is back and international breaks can be put away in the drawer until March.

For the fans of Championship and Premier League clubs, that will come as a welcome relief.

Despite the successes enjoyed by some nations in the last week, including the euphoria of Scotland’s shoot-out, many fans aren’t keen on the relentless early season international fixtures.

That feeling has grown this year given the heightened risk we all live in due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Positive Covid tests have been on the rise in professional sport in recent weeks, so sending the best players all over Europe to multiple destinations for a week was always going to add further complications.

In the Premier League alone, eight players have either tested positive or have been directed to self isolate.

It’s not a massive number but it could have been avoided.

We’ve had three international breaks already this season, with the international schedule now sidelined until March.

Given the current rise in cases across many countries, couldn’t those international weekends have been slotted in to the early 2021 schedule, a time when we are led to believe that vaccines could be rolled out.

It’s done now but surely in the current climate things could have been handled better.

Elsewhere, much of the talk heading into the league’s resumption has been around the growing Liverpool injury list.

You can’t help but have a bit of sympathy with the Reds and Jurgen Klopp, given talisman Mo Salah tested positive for a second time on Wednesday.

There is no getting away from the fact the Liverpool injury list is partly down to the intense schedule the players are having to endure this season.

Part of it is down to flying goalkeepers, but that argument has hopefully now been put to bed.

Liverpool, like the other top four clubs, are competing on all fronts and therefore have a more intense playing schedule.

In turn being a top club means your side is littered with internationals, whose schedules are even more inflated.

So you’re injury list is more often than not going to be bigger than the rest, that is just the way the land lies.

You’re up the top because you are the best and you have the best and biggest squad. I get the gripes about the schedule, but it is what it is, you’ve just got to get on with it.

And as well as the return of the league it is also the last we have seen of the pay per view games.

The scrapping of the ludicrious and inflated fee was welcome news ahead of the break.

We’re in choppy waters where average fans are suffering from a drop in incomes, and the levy put on games by the authorities was nothing short of a disgrace.

So its great to see the fees banished, but it will take a while for people to forgive and forget.

Games of the weekend

Four fixtures over the weekend stand out more than most, starting on Saturday tea time in North London.

It’s still early doors but Spurs have risen to the top after eight games, with Pep’s City charges languishing down in mid table.

Like I say, its still early and a win for City will put them in touching distance of Jose Mourinho’s men.

A win for the boys from North London would put them top of the pile on Saturday evening, and represent a major shift from early on Mourinho’s tenure.

Some sections of the Spurs supporters didn’t accept the Special One as well as others, but the standings don’t lie and the evidence is there to show how he’s steering the ship.

On Saturday evening West Brom head to Old Trafford still searching for their first win of the campaign.

They’ve come close on a number of occasions, most notably against Chelsea before they were unlucky not to come away with at least a point in their last outing against Spurs.

Slaven Bilic is sweating on a host of Covid tests which could almost certainly hamper his side’s chances at United.

On the flip side, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is arguably the manager more desperate for a victory.

Despite rumours of an exit for Bilic recently, a defeat for the baby faced assassin could push him closer to the Old Trafford exit door.

The stakes are high and like anything it could drop either way, but if Albion turn up like they did against Spurs they can cause problems.

Equally if United are on it, the Baggies won’t have anything to match it.

Leeds against Arsenal promises to be a fascinating match up pitting two tactical managers up against each other.

Bielsa’s Leeds took the league by storm in those opening weeks, and to use the old cliché, they were a ‘breathe of fresh air’.

They’ve gone off the boil in recent weeks, with the Argentine looking to plug the gap and the gaping leak in his backline.

Arsenal sit just two points ahead of United with Mikel Arteta left with more questions than answers after their Aston Villa humbling.

Arteta, despite having a worse start than the less favoured Unai Emery, looks set to be afforded more time to shape Arsenal into what he wants.

If Leeds haven’t filled in the hole, Arsenal’s front line could have a field day in this one.

And the weekend will come to an end on Sunday evening when leaders Leicester City take on Liverpool.

Leicester are flying again under Brendan Rodgers and there has probably been no better time this season to play Klopp’s men.

The depth of their squad means they’ll arguably go into this as favourites even if the injury list isn’t reduced before hand.

City have been free flowing in the opening months of the season, and look a solid bet to challenge for a top four berth once again this season.

The result won’t have any baring on the standings come May, but a win for the Foxes would take them to the summit and make the season feel a little bit like that famous one a few years ago.

Remember than one?

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