Ahead of the football season restart, we have all the information you need.
An outline on when and how Chelsea will be back in action, what the Premier League’s new normal is set to look like and the measures in place to keep everybody safe…
When is Chelsea’s next game?
Premier League football returns this week after over three months on pause due to the global coronavirus health pandemic. There are two midweek games this evening (Wednesday), rescheduled after Manchester City and Aston Villa’s involvement in the Carabao Cup final, before game week 30 gets underway at the weekend. Frank Lampard takes his side to Aston Villa on Sunday for a 4.15pm kick-off.
How long has it been since Chelsea last played?
When we finally resume our campaign in the Midlands this weekend, it will be 105 days since our last outing against Everton in early March. That 4-0 victory over the Toffees, with goals from Mason Mount, Pedro, Willian and Olivier Giroud, was arguably one of our best performances of the campaign to date and Lampard will be hoping his team can pick up where they left off, even if it has been 15 weeks!
How have we been preparing for the restart?
The Premier League introduced a series of phased protocols to ensure the return to training was safe and sensible for all clubs. On 19 May, Step One of the Return to Training Protocol brought a return to small group training, which meant players could work with four or five others back at Cobham.
The emphasis at this stage was on regaining fitness levels after two months at home, where individual work kept the players ticking over but was no substitute for the high-intensity nature of team training.
On 27 May, the Premier League announced a resumption of contact training, declaring that squads could train once again as a whole group and engage in tackling, while minimising any unnecessary contact.
Social distancing guidelines have been adhered to throughout the return to training process, with a vast amount of measures introduced at our training ground to protect the health and safety of all staff and players.
What about match fitness?
This has been slowly built up over the past week, with an in-house game at Stamford Bridge followed by a friendly against Reading in midweek, which was settled by a second-half goal from Pedro.
At the weekend the Blues were back at the Bridge and thumped QPR 7-1, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Billy Gilmour bagging a brace apiece.
What has Frank Lampard had to say about the restart?
The boss believes his squad’s preparations for the season resumption have been going well, although he admits care is being taken to manage these unique set of circumstances.
‘The transition from non-contact to contact was good,’ said Lampard recently. ‘The players were excited to get in the big groups and train with contact. It has allowed us to work at a level that is much more relevant to match play.
‘The players have worked very hard in training when asked to, to try to bridge the gap a bit quicker than we normally would do. As coaching staff and medically, we have to have the balance right to make sure we don’t push too much.
‘There have been challenges along the way but that’s what football is. The players are getting fitter and we hope come Aston Villa we will be ready to go, with the mindset and the physical side of it to take on the games which are going to come thick and fast.’
How will the players be kept safe from coronavirus?
As at every stage of the return to football procedure, player and staff health remains of paramount importance. All players and team staff will continue to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week, as they have been since returning to training. Anybody testing positive will have to self-isolate at home for seven days.
Match officials are also now being tested in line with players and team staff.
What about on matchdays?
Stadium zoning will be in place at all grounds to ensure social distancing can take place and limit any potential spread of the virus.
The red zone covers the dressing rooms, tunnel, dugouts and pitch, where only individuals who have tested negative for COVID-19 in the five days prior to the game will be admitted by presenting a Clinical Passport – a barcode they have printed out or on their mobile device which displays information on their most recent test results.
The amber zone covers the stands, concourses and pitchside interview areas, where media personnel will be admitted following the completion of a medical questionnaire and a temperature check on arrival. The green zone includes the rest of the site, namely the stadium outer concourse. In total, the number of people present at each stadium on matchday will be approximately 300.
Adequate space will also be made available in dressing rooms to allow for social distancing, while team walkouts through the tunnel will be staggered to avoid close contact between opposing players and staff. Team benches will be expanded and anybody in the stadium, with the exception of those on the pitch and in the dugouts, must wear face coverings.
How is the race for the top four shaping up?
With eight games to go, there are just eight points separating the Blues in fourth and Arsenal in ninth, with Manchester United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Sheffield United and Tottenham all in the hunt for Champions League qualification.
Chelsea still have to go to Bramall Lane and host Wolves on the final day of the season.
How can you watch the games?
Due to the public health situation in the UK, all remaining games this season will be played behind closed doors, which means supporters will unfortunately not be admitted.
For our home games, the whole Stamford Bridge site will be closed to the public. Please do not travel to Stamford Bridge or congregate in the nearby streets on match days. The same applies to away stadiums.
In the UK, all 92 Premier League fixtures will be screened live on Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime or the BBC. A total of 33 games will be free-to-air, shown on Sky Pick, Amazon Prime and BBC Sport.
Chelsea’s trips to Villa and West Ham will be shown on Sky Sports and the home game against Manchester City on BT Sport.
As ever, you will also be able to follow the action right here on the official Chelsea website through our Match Centre coverage, with live text commentary from every game. Highlights will be available not long after the final whistle. We will also have all the key build-up and reaction.
Can we make more substitutes?
Yes. Premier League shareholders have agreed temporary changes to the rules relating to substitute players, namely that teams will be allowed up to five substitutions in a match and team benches will increase to nine players. There will be three opportunities to make substitutions during the match, not including half-time.
What about the FA Cup?
Our quarter-final tie against Leicester City has been rearranged for Sunday 28 June, kick-off 4pm. It will be broadcast live on BT Sport. The FA Cup semi-finals have been pencilled in for the weekend of 18-19 July and the final is set to be on Saturday 1 August, all at Wembley.
So when will the season now end?
The provisional end date for the Premier League season is 25 July, after which it is expected that UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League competitions will be played to a conclusion.