Premier League is making history on our TV

Match of the Day Live; (BBC One, 7.20pm)
Gary Lineker is to front the BBC’s coverage of the Premier LeagueGary Lineker is to front the BBC’s coverage of the Premier League
Gary Lineker is to front the BBC’s coverage of the Premier League

After a break of exactly 100 days, the Premier League returned to action on Wednesday evening, as Aston Villa hosted Sheffield United at Villa Park.

It’s fair to say a few things have changed, both in the football world and in many other areas of society, since Leicester beat Villa 4-0 in the last game before the hiatus in March.

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At many stages over the past three months, it seemed likely that the Premier League would have to curtail the 2019/20 season, as many other professional and amateur leagues have.

However, as the nation attempted to come to grips with the coronavirus and the resulting lockdown, plans were slowly being put in place for top-flight football to bounce back. Eventually a decision was reached to resume the Premier League, with Germany’s Bundesliga the first major European football competition to test the waters with behind-closed-doors matches.

Although most of the English game’s stars have been in action this week, they are playing to empty stadiums, which is something they will have to get used to until the dangers of the virus further subside.

One of the other major changes to top-flight football is how we are able to watch it.

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Every one of the 92 remaining fixtures will be broadcast live on TV, and for the first time in the history of the Premier League, some of them are available free-to-air.

Tonight’s match at the Vitality Stadium is a small piece of sporting and televisual history – it’s first-ever Premier League match to be shown on terrestrial TV, and the first top-flight game shown live on the BBC since Jimmy Hill presented coverage of Arsenal against Tottenham Hotspur in the old Division One way back in March 1988.

As Bournemouth currently sit in the relegation zone, they were in serious danger of being relegated had the Premier League season been curtailed.

Now, with football having returned to action, they will be determined to fight their way out of trouble and move clear of the bottom three, once the full fixture list has been completed.

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However, if Eddie Howe’s hosts are to get a result against Crystal Palace tonight, they will have to improve on their performance in December’s reverse fixture at Selhurst Park (coincidentally the first Premier League match to be broadcast on streaming service Amazon Prime).

The Cherries suffered a 1-0 defeat on that occasion despite Palace defender Mamadou Sakho being sent off for a high challenge on Adam Smith in the 19th minute.

Jeffrey Schlupp struck in the second half for Roy Hodgson’s men, and the Eagles will be targeting three points again tonight as they look to improve on their current mid-table position.

After all the excitement of having some live top-flight football to mull over, Gary Lineker returns to present the regular Match of the Day highlights programme (BBC One, 10.35pm).

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He will have action from today’s other Premier League matches, including Watford v Leicester City, Brighton & Hove Albion v Arsenal and West Ham United v Wolverhampton Wanderers, as well as Friday night’s games – Norwich City v Southampton, and Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United.

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