To say 2020 was strange is an understatement.
COVID turned the world upside down, and with it came the most unprecedented, unexplainable year in English football history.

Through it all, there were lots of great football-related stories, and some bad ones too.

Let’s look back at some of the memorable EPL storylines from 2020.

Former Premier League Greats Return to Glory

2020 brought on a lot of hardship for many clubs worldwide; however, two of the Premier League’s most storied clubs experienced seasons that I’m sure their fans will never forget. After going through a near financial collapse during the mid-2000s, Leeds United returned to the top flight for the first time in 16 years. They did so in style, winning the Championship with an attacking style of play created by Marcelo Bielsa. Leeds currently sit 13th in the table with hopes set on staying in the Premier League for the long haul.

Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Finally, Liverpool ended their 30-year league title drought by winning the 2019-2020 EPL crown. For the past 20 years, the Reds have been consistently near the top of the table but could never get their hands on the elusive Premier League trophy. Even without fans in the stands for most of the year, it was a glorious season for Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp cemented himself as the greatest Liverpool manager of all-time and now looks to go back-to-back this season. Lead by Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, Liverpool are not done winning trophies.

Three London Clubs Hit the Reset Button

Every Premier League season, one or two of the big-name clubs have a tumultuous year. In 2020 three of the biggest clubs in the world changed things up. Arsenal and Tottenham hired new managers during the winter, hoping for a revitalization of their respective squads. Mikel Arteta has yet to really hit a groove with the Gunners, while Jose Mourinho has turned Spurs’ fortunes around thanks to his hard-nosed style of play.

Meanwhile, Chelsea spent over £300 million in the summer transfer window, completely re-engineering a squad that finished in fourth for the 2019/2020 season.

The Blues acquired tons of young talent, including German sensations Timo Werner and Kai Havertz. The squad has not completely gelled together this season, which is understandable when you consider the number of new players coming into the club. Nonetheless, lead by a core group of young attacking talent, Chelsea have their sights set on a title.

Despite Interest From Bigger Clubs, Grealish and Zaha Stay Home

Jack Grealish and Wilfried Zaha were two of the breakout stars of 2020.

Grealish was the lone bright spot for an Aston Villa side that nearly got relegated last season, but upon Villa staying up, he decided to sign a new five year deal with his hometown club. This came as a surprise to many as Grealish was linked with a move to Man United for months. Somehow, the 25-year-old attacking midfielder has improved upon his brilliant 2019/2020 campaign, leading Villa in assists and shots this season. His efforts have paid off, as Aston Villa are currently sitting in 11th, just one point out of the top ten.

Zaha was also linked with a couple of clubs over the summer, and just like Grealish, he elected to stay at his current team, Crystal Palace. Similarly, Zaha has helped Palace get off to their best start in years. They currently sit in 12th place at the table. Smaller clubs retaining their stars is something to keep an eye on as a trend for the future. With the pandemic crippling many small clubs across England, retaining a player’s star power like Zaha may be worth it in the long run. 2020 showed that the small clubs are more resistant to sell their best players and that loyalty has its virtues.

Injuries Rise Due to Pandemic Changes

No one could have expected something like a worldwide pandemic to occur this year, so you can’t exactly blame the FA for having to create a more compact schedule for the 2020/2021 season.  However, scheduling changes and other related factors have led to a shocking rise in muscle injuries across the league.

According to The Athletic, is a close to a 40% rise in muscle injuries this season. Some clubs have been hit worse than others. Liverpool players Trent Alexander Arnold, Joe Gomez, and Diogo Jota are all currently suffering from muscle injuries, which have kept them off the pitch. It’s a pretty bad look for the FA, especially considering they continually rejected going back to five subs even though a higher number of subs would presumably reduce injury and increase overall fitness. Several big-name managers, including Klopp, asked the FA to take a more precautionary approach to this season. So far, very few changes have been made.

The Premier League Shows Their Support for Social Justice Movements

Social justice movements took center stage in 2020. Across the world, athletes showed their support for movements like Black Lives Matter. The Premier League was no different. After the wrongful death of George Floyd, while he was in police custody, teams across the league began the practice of kneeling before the start of each match. Kneeling continued throughout the rest of the year.

Players also started wearing “No Room for Racism” badges on their kits. Individual players like Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling used their platform as global footballing superstars to call for the end of police brutality. 2020, in all of its craziness, proved that football is bigger than just a game.

From start to finish, 2020 was undeniably a fascinating year of Premier League football.

Liverpool finally won the title, Chelsea spent the most money in a single transfer window ever, and football came together to fight injustice as we’ve never seen before.

We could all use a nice, quiet 2021, but hey, this is the Premier League we’re talking about.
They’ll always be more stories to tell.

Featured Image: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
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