The wait is coming to an end as Premier League football finally gets down to business this week as clubs race to complete the 2019/20 season.
Of course, football isn’t returning as normal, and that leaves everything up for grabs.
Will home advantage count for anything without fans? Could the break have done some sides the world of good? Will we see some new stars emerge without the pressure of performing to the masses?
One thing is for sure – it’s going to be a grandstand finish.
Here’s our look at all 20 teams in a nutshell ahead of the Premier League restart. First up, Arsenal to Liverpool…
Premier League Restart – Arsenal to Liverpool
Reasons to be cheerful: Mikel Arteta has now effectively had a ‘pre-season’ of sorts to stamp his own mark on the side.
Reasons to be fearful: The defence still looks decidedly shaky, if last week’s friendly loss to Brentford is anything to go by.
Verdict: With the top four looking a stretch, Arteta has something of a free hit to experiment. That could play in Arsenal’s favour long term.
Reasons to be cheerful: The return of John McGinn. That could take some heat off Jack Grealish over the next few weeks.
Reasons to be fearful: The squad still looks a little lightweight for the amount of rotation likely to be needed over the next few weeks.
Verdict: Villa’s survival hopes will likely be defined by how the two quickfire home games against Sheffield Utd and Chelsea play out over the next week or so.
Reasons to be cheerful: The squad looks far stronger than it did in the early spring, with several key names returning to full fitness, including last year’s surprise sensation David Brooks.
Reasons to be fearful: The Ryan Fraser contract saga has overshadowed their preparations, with the Scotsman reportedly refusing to play for the Cherries. Eddie Howe will be hoping that doesn’t affect morale in camp.
Verdict: Howe might be one of the few managers who welcomed the break, but Bournemouth will need some results quickly with July looking a tough assignment.
Reasons to be cheerful: The experimental Graham Potter is probably the right fit for this unique set of circumstances and won’t be afraid to mix things up every few days. That could keep Brighton fresh.
Reasons to be fearful: The fixture list looks horrendous, albeit they will be playing host to four of the big six, which the Seagulls believe will be an advantage even without a crowd.
Verdict: Safety might depend on the behind closed doors factor – can they offset likely home defeats against the big guns by improving their points return on the road?
Reasons to be cheerful: The imminent return of Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes. They might not be the most fashionable top-flight strike force, but they don’t half cause teams headaches.
Reasons to be fearful: ‘On the beach’ syndrome. Sean Dyche is unlikely to let his charges relax, but it might be a temptation if the Clarets become one of the first sides with nothing to play for.
Verdict: Bar trips to Man City and Liverpool, a kind fixture list could help push Burnley into the European reckoning.
Reasons to be cheerful: Events off the pitch have actually handed the Blues a big psychological boost as the season restarts. With Timo Werner looking all but done, and a whole host of big-name stars being linked, Chelsea look back in the game again at the heavyweight end of Premier League pulling power.
Reasons to be fearful: Frank Lampard remains a rookie manager at the highest level and he’s never faced the scrutiny of a nervy Premier League run-in before. Derby’s form tailed off in the second half of 2018/19 and the former England man will be hoping history doesn’t repeat itself in his second managerial role. Blues fans will be hoping the pause has helped him catch a breath and take stock.
Verdict: The Blues should have just about enough – and the ambitious transfer moves afoot could be all the impetus they need to firm up that Champions League place ahead of a title tilt in 2020/21.
Reasons to be cheerful: Roy Hodgson is a conservative manager by nature, but he should seize the opportunity to take some risks given safety looks a given at Selhurst Park. Palace have always produced young talent – now the Eagles boss has the perfect conditions to give them a chance to thrive.
Reasons to be fearful: Complacency. Roy Hodgson won’t want to hang around on 39 points for too long, even if that has traditionally been more than enough over the last few seasons.
Verdict: With little to play for, Palace could surprise a few – but it’s still unclear whether that’ll be for not showing up or for putting on a show with very little pressure on them.
Reasons to be cheerful: Carlo Ancelotti has had some thinking time as he works towards moving Everton closer to the traditional Premier League heavyweights. That can be no bad thing. His team selections over this next month could prove instructive.
Reasons to be fearful: If the Italian is planning an ambitious summer upheaval, could that cause some splits in the camp? Ancelotti will have a delicate balancing act to keep everyone on side.
Verdict: It’s another season of transition for the Toffees, but in Ancelotti they have a manager who can push them towards greater heights. The rest of this odd season can be a dry run.
Reasons to be cheerful: Due to their fabulous run since appointing Brendan Rodgers, Leicester’s indifferent form since the turn of the year went relatively unnoticed by most neutrals. The Foxes looked like a team in need of a breather.
Reasons to be fearful: Rodgers needs some quick wins, or their FA Cup campaign could become an increasing distraction if the teams directly below start to eat into their current comfortable-looking eight point buffer to fifth.
Verdict: The chance for a reset could just work in Rodgers’ favour with his players rested up after a challenging winter.
Reasons to be cheerful: After all the null and void speculation, the Reds finally have the chance to finish the job and lift that first Premier League title. Yes, this may be the season that always has an asterisk in the history books, but Liverpool fans won’t care one jot if they can finally end over 30 years of hurt.
Reasons to be fearful: There really aren’t many, but Jürgen Klopp won’t want his side to mess around should the unthinkable happen and the season be stopped again. He’ll take a few dull 1-0 wins if that’s needed.
Verdict: The champagne’s been on ice far longer than anticipated, but it’ll surely taste all the better in the summer sunshine.