• Premier League agrees to five substitutions when action resumes

    Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea greets Manchester City's Sergio Aguero during the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester.

    The Premier League has given a green light for five substitutions to be made by managers in the English top-flight when competitive action resumes amid the coronavirus pandemic on June 17.

    It has also been announced that matchday squads will be increased from 18 to 20 for the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign, meaning that nine players can be named on the bench.

    Having been in a state of lockdown since mid-March, the Premier League is set to return after a three-month hiatus.

    The vast majority of sides in the division have nine fixtures left to take in, with Manchester City, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Sheffield United having 10 apiece – and it will be they who kick things off on June 17.

    Pep Guardiola, Mikel Arteta, Dean Smith and Chris Wilder will all be able to dig a little deeper into their respective reserves than they were allowed to previously, with rule changes granting coaches greater freedom to tinker with their plans and rest those in need of a break.

    A statement released by the Premier League read: ‘Premier League Shareholders today agreed temporary changes to the rules relating to substitute players.

    ‘For the remainder of the 2019/20 season, the number of substitutes that can be used during a match will increase from three to five players.

    ‘This is in line with the temporary law amendment made by the International Football Association Board last month.

    ‘Shareholders also approved for Clubs to increase the maximum number of substitute players on the bench from seven to nine for the rest of the 2019-20 season.’

    A precedent when it comes to five substitutions has already been set in the Bundesliga.

    The German top tier was the first of Europe’s leading divisions to bring competitive football back onto the calendar.

    They tweaked their rules when it comes to in-game changes, and the Premier League will now be doing likewise.

    The English game will also be staying behind closed doors, with it still possible that some games will be staged at neutral venues in a bid to prevent fans from congregating outside the stadiums in which their teams are playing.

    While there will be a distinct lack of atmosphere inside grounds, there is still plenty left to play for out on the field.

    Liverpool, with a 25-point lead opened up at the top of the table, are just two wins away from wrapping up a first title triumph in 30 years.

    Top-four spots remain up for grabs in the race for Champions League qualification, with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham still very much part of that battle.

    At the opposite end of the table, Norwich, Aston Villa and Bournemouth occupy the relegation spots at present, but they remain within touching distance of safety and will have many of those above them glancing anxiously over their shoulder.

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