In this Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019 file photo Manchester United's Marcus Rashford scores his side's opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Liverpool at the Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England.
In this Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019 file photo Manchester United's Marcus Rashford scores his side's opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Liverpool at the Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England. |Jon Super | Associated Press
Soccer

Sean Miller's European Soccer Daily: Wednesday brings the return of Premier League, the best league in the world, plus Coppa Italia

Aston Villa vs Sheffield United, Manchester City vs Arsenal, and Napoli vs Juventus in Coppa Italia. First match is Wednesday, 1 p.m. EDT

Sean Miller

Sean Miller

For many people around the globe, Wednesday is a watershed moment.

After three months on pause because of COVID-19, the Premier League is back with two massive games: Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United, and Manchester City vs. Arsenal.

While there have been a lot of matches in the last 100 days in other countries, there is nothing like the top flight in England (except maybe the English Championship, which restarts this weekend.) Today will also be the start of a new feature on Bettors Insider: European Football Daily.

Every match day, I will have a preview of the games that will be played, with some interesting facts to go along with the picks. Then, after the matches are all in the books, check back on the site to see EFD’s recap of what went well, what could have gone better, and some awards for the day. Soon, the Box to Box Football crew will be back in action with your podcast needs to supplement the written coverage, on both YouTube and the various pod platforms.

With the return of the biggest league in the world, as well as the Coppa Italia Final and many other games around Europe, Wednesday is going to be one of the most special days in recent memory for a lot of people. So let’s take a look at the action.

Premier League Returns With Two Games Impacting Both Ends of Table

When the Premier League was paused before match week 30, there were still four teams that have yet to play their 29th game. The Aston Villa Sheffield United and Manchester City Arsenal matches were moved from the weekend of March 1 due to the Carabao Cup Final, which was won 2-1 by City over Villa.

Those two games will be made up Wednesday, which will start a run that will have matches played on 35 of the next 40 days.

Talk about a dream summer for fans (except if you want to actually go to the games.)

The league title has long since been headed to Liverpool for the first time in three decades, thanks to City’s seven league losses. But the Cityzens, who are now healthy for the first time in six months, are all but assured of a top three finish, although that might not mean a Champions League spot next season depending on the outcome of their CAS appeal.

Arsenal, now managed by former Pep Guardiola assistant Mikel Arteta, will head to the Etihad sitting ninth in the table, knowing a loss could drop the Gunners into the bottom half. City is an overwhelming favorite, and this could get ugly.

The other contest is one that could change the fortunes at both ends of the table. Aston Villa has struggled mightily at times this season, but now has John McGinn back in the fold for this crucial 10-game stretch to stay in the Premier League.

Villa is currently 19th in the table, but a win over the Blades would move the Villains up to 16th, outside of the relegation zone. For Sheffield United, a win would jump it from seventh into fifth, which may end up as a UEFA Champions League place, depending on the City appeal.

For the first game back in three months, it is quite a doozy. Take a flyer on Jack Grealish to score (+320), and maybe help lead his club to safety.

Aston Villa (+235) vs. Sheffield United (+123), draw (+225), 1 p.m. EDT (NBCSN and Fubo.tv)

Manchester City (-315) vs. Arsenal (+750), draw (+450), 3:15 p.m. EDT (NBCSN and Fubo.tv)

THE PICKS:

Aston Villa or draw (-150) OR Aston Villa pick (+150)

Jack Grealish to score, yes (+320)

Manchester City first half -0.75 (+100)

Manchester City -1.5 (-115)

Over 3.5 goals (-103)

Coppa Italia Final Pits Napoli Against Juventus

Unlike some of the other countries, Italy decided to finish its cup before the Serie A gets underway on the weekend. Last week, Juventus finished off AC Milan with a 0-0 draw at home in the second leg of the TIM Coppa Italia semifinal, winning 1-1 on away goals. Then, Napoli took out Inter 2-1 on aggregate (with a 1-1 draw), to set up an appetizing final Wednesday in Rome.

Cristiano Ronaldo is a silverware hoarder, from his time at Manchester United, Real Madrid, and now Juventus. The Bianconeri are looking to win a record 20th title, and had won four in a row before Lazio beat Atalanta last year. Napoli has won five titles all-time, with its last two coming in 2012 and 2014.

Are you really going to go against serial trophy-winner Ronaldo in this spot?

All lines from Parx Online Casino — Check Fubo.tv for channel listings

Napoli (+255) vs. Juventus (+102), draw (+240), 3 p.m. EDT (ESPN and ESPN Deportes)

THE PICKS:

Juventus ML (+102)

Cristiano Ronaldo to score, yes (+130)

Who Needs a Wednesday Win?

In Germany, Bayer Leverkusen, a -195 favorite over Kӧln (+450, draw +350) can stay ahead of Borussia Mӧnchengladbach for a top four UEFA Champions League place. Mӧnchengladbach is currently two points ahead after its win over VfL Wolfsburg Tuesday.

Benfica (-159), which trails Porto at the top of the Portuguese Primeira Liga NOS table by three points after Porto’s 0-0 draw Tuesday, can take back the lead with a win over Rio Ave (+425, draw +265). Remember, though, it was Rio Ave that ended Porto’s title chances a year ago with a 2-2 draw, handing the title to Benfica. Will something similar happen Wednesday?

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