And just like that, the 2019-20 NHL regular season is in the books.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced on Tuesday that the league will conclude the season by diving right into a 24-team playoff in two yet-to-be-decided hub cities to crown a Stanley Cup champion.

In the unique playoff format, the top 12 teams from each conference - ranked by points percentage from when the season went on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 12 - will make the playoffs.

The top four teams in each conference will compete in a round-robin tournament to determine final seedings. The teams seeded five through 12 will participate in a play-in tournament featuring a best-of-five series to determine who advances to face the top four seeds. The playoffs will continue with a second round, conference finals and a Stanley Cup final.

All of this will take place when medical experts determine it is safe for games to resume.

“Let me assure you that the reason we are doing this is because our fans have told us in overwhelming numbers that they want to complete the season if at all possible,” Bettman said Tuesday. ”And our players and our teams are clear that they want to play and bring the season to its rightful conclusion."

So once the regular season was brought to an end, it was time to hand out some hardware and recognise some achievements from the 2019-20 regular season.

The Boston Bruins won the Presidents' Trophy with 100 points and 44 wins - their seventh straight season with 40 or more victories. The only other time Boston notched at least seven consecutive 40-win seasons was when they reeled off 12 straight from 1968-69 to 1979-80.

Boston thrived behind Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak, who earned the William M. Jennings Trophy for allowing a league-low 167 goals. Rask had a league-best 2.12 GAA, the second time he's led the NHL in GAA after posting a 1.97 in 2009-10. That 10-year span between leading the league in GAA is the longest by a goalie since Hall of Famer Patrick Roy led the NHL in 2001-02 after not leading since 1991-92.

Boston's David Pastrnak and the Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin tied for the league lead with 48 goals to share the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the top-goal scorer. For Ovechkin, it extended his record for most seasons leading the league in goals scored to nine, now two more than Chicago Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull.

While Ovechkin managed to add to one record, the shortened season robbed him a chance of matching another.

With 48 goals, Ovechkin finished just two scores shy of matching Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy for the most 50-goal seasons in NHL history. It's a good bet if the season wasn't interrupted by coronavirus and a full 82-game season transpired, Ovechkin would have managed a pair of goals in Washington's final 13 games and got his name next to Gretzky and Bossy in the record book.

It's a similar story for Pastrnak. The Bruins had a dozen games left when the season was paused and ultimately cancelled, costing him a chance to become the first Bruin 50-goal scorer since Cam Neely tallied exactly 50 in 1993-94. At 24, Pastrnak became the youngest skater to lead the league in goals since the Tampa Bay Lighting's Steven Stamkos scored 60 as a 21-year-old in 2011-12.

Ovechkin may have been one of the league's top goal scorers, but he didn't lead the Capitals in points, with John Carlson recording eight more than his team-mate's 67.

Carlson's 75 points were the most by a defenseman this past season, which works out to an average of 1.09 points per game. His points-per-game average is the highest by a defenseman in a single season since the Detroit Red Wings' Paul Coffey averaged 1.29 points in 1994-95.

An Edmonton Oiler once again won the Art Ross Trophy as Leon Draisaitl finished the season with a league-leading 110 points after Conner McDavid took it home in 2016-17 and 2017-18.

The Edmonton franchise has won the Art Ross Trophy 10 times, now one more than Chicago and the Montreal Canadiens to stand alone for second most, trailing only the Pittsburgh Penguins' 15.

Draisaitl, the first German-born skater to lead the league in scoring, led the NHL with 33 multi-point games and had a league-best 67 assists. He becomes just the third Oiler to lead the NHL in assists, joining McDavid and Gretzky, who accomplished the feat with Edmonton nine times.

McDavid finished with 13 fewer points than Draisaitl, but his 97 points were still good enough for second most in the NHL. Draisaitl and McDavid are the first set of team-mates to be the league's top two leading scorers since the strike-shortened 2012-13 season, when Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis had 60 points and Stamkos had 57. Prior to that, the last team-mates to go 1-2 in points was in 1995-96, when Mario Lemieux had 161 and Penguin team-mate Jaromir Jagr had 149.

The last time Edmonton had the league's top two scorers was in 1986-87, when Gretzky had 183 points and Jari Kurri was second with 108. (To answer your next question, that difference of 75 points behind the league's number one and number two scorer is the second-largest gap in NHL history behind only the 79-point difference in 1983-84, when Gretzky had 205 points and Coffey had 126.)

Now that these regular season trophies have been sorted out, the attention turns to the ultimate prize – the Stanley Cup.

The 2019 Stanley Cup final began just over a year ago, with Game 1 taking place on May 27, 2019, but this year's champion is unlikely to raise the cup until the fall considering the NHL said training camps cannot open any earlier than July 10 as part of the league's return-to-play plan.

July 10 will be 121 days since the last NHL games were played on March 11. It has been a long wait without professional sports in the United States, but the NHL feels it has conceived a plan that is not only safe, but also creates an intriguing playoff format to crown a champion.

“We believe we have constructed an overall plan that includes all teams that, as a practical matter, might have had a chance of qualifying for the playoffs when the season was paused,” Bettman said. “And this plan will produce a worthy Stanley Cup champion who will have run the postseason gauntlet that is unique to the NHL."

The face staring down the lens of the camera at the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is familiar, and yet almost unrecognisable.

With hair unkempt, eyes lifeless and the beginnings of an uncultivated beard, it is in many ways just another ordinary mugshot.

But the man in the picture is not ordinary, far from it; the man in the picture is Tiger Woods.

It was on May 29, 2017 that Woods reached his nadir, and the world bore witness to it, aghast as the photograph spread rapidly across news sources and social media.

That image, captured after his arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence, demanded a second look just to make sure you could believe your eyes.

With a countenance that betrayed his inner tumult, Woods' fall from grace was painfully apparent.

The very existence of that mugshot, the fact that such a scenario should ever have transpired, has only become more remarkable with the passage of time.

Had Woods not revived his life and career to such a glorious extent that he was tasting major success again by the time of the 2019 Masters, the image would have served as a stark cautionary tale, a reminder that even great talent and vast wealth cannot shelter someone from the consequences of following their own worst impulses.

It would have plagued him, accompanying stories of further misdemeanours and transgressions to sit alongside his charge for reckless driving, having been found to have had five different drugs in his system at this time of his arrest. 

Instead, that shot of Woods is more of a bizarre curio from an alternate reality he briefly occupied, one which would have led him to somewhere very different from the place he is today.

For as shocking as his decline may have been, the comeback is more apt to take one's breath away. It is harder to climb than it is to fall.

Tiger's ascent back to the peak led to pictures altogether more joyous, the celebrations that greeted the confirmation of his 15th major win captured in images where Woods – two years older than in his mugshot – looks a decade younger.

Woods' Augusta exultation capped an extraordinary return to the top, making an impostor of the man in the mugshot. 

It is 52 years since Manchester United beat Benfica to win their first European Cup, while Roy Halladay pitched a perfect game for Philadelphia Phillies on this day in 2010.

English giants United lifted the famous trophy thanks to a couple of goals from Bobby Charlton in a 4-1 win at Wembley – their first of three continental triumphs.

As for Halladay, he retired all 27 of Florida Marlins' batters – striking out 11 – en route to hurling a no-hitter at Sun Life Stadium.

Today is also a meaningful date in the history of the Utah Jazz and Sunrisers Hyderabad, who achieved memorable sporting feats on May 29.

Join us in looking back on some memorable moments from this day in years gone by.


1968 - Man Utd prevail at Wembley

Having progressed through four rounds of two-legged ties to reach the final on English soil, United faced the daunting task of taking on Benfica.

The Portuguese heavyweights had won the competition twice before and boasted all-time great striker Eusebio in their ranks.

But it was Matt Busby's side who took the lead after a goalless first half through Charlton, only for Jaime Graca to equalise for Benfica.

Alex Stepney then produced a big save to deny Eusebio and that proved to be a pivotal moment in the final as George Best, Brian Kidd and Charlton were all on target in extra time.

 

1997 - Stockton sends Jazz to first NBA Finals

More than two decades on, it is still regarded as arguably the biggest moment in Utah's history.

Trailing the Houston Rockets by 10 points with 2:59 left in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, the Jazz went on a 17-4 run that culminated in John Stockton's buzzer-beating three-pointer.

He let fly from 26 feet and found the target to earn the Jazz a dramatic 103-100 victory, setting up a showdown with Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls.

It was the first time Utah had reached the Finals, though it ultimately ended in heartbreak as the Bulls battled to a 90-86 win on home soil.

 

2010 - Halladay's perfect game

Halladay is one of only 23 people to have pitched the perfect game in Major League Baseball history, doing so in style on a steamy night in south Florida.

What makes the achievement all the more incredible, though, is that it came in just his 11th start for the Phillies after being traded by the Toronto Blue Jays.

He needed no more than 12 pitches in any inning except the seventh, throwing 115 in total, 72 for strikes. Of his 11 strikeouts, four came by way of sinkers.

Halladay's perfect pitch came 20 days after the Oakland Athletics' Dallas Braden had done likewise – the shortest span between two perfect games since 1880.

 

2016 - Hyderabad emerge victorious in high-scoring final

With David Warner leading from the front, Hyderabad won their maiden Indian Premier League title with an eight-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Warner top-scored with 69 off 38 balls and Ben Cutting registered an unbeaten 39 off 15 in Hyderabad's 208-7 at Bangalore's M Chinnaswamy Stadium.

The skipper then stepped up by marshalling his bowlers as they held off an onslaught, the hosts finishing just short with their reply of 200-7.

It was the third final Bangalore had lost, having also done so in 2009 and 2011, while Hyderabad reached the final again in 2018 but lost to Chennai Super Kings.

Serie A was given the green light to resume from June 20, making it the latest major European League to return to action.

The coronavirus pandemic forced most global sport into shutdown in March, but three rounds of Bundesliga fixtures have been played – albeit behind closed doors.

It was announced on Thursday that football in Italy will return with the Coppa Italia semi-finals on June 13, with the final taking place in the week leading up to the first Serie A fixtures in three months. The Premier League is also set to get back under way from June 17.

With the rest of the 2019-20 season now firmly within sight, we look back at the best Opta stats from Italy's top-flight campaign.

JUVENTUS

- Juve have been trailing for 133 minutes in 2019-20, less time than any other team in Serie A this season.

- At home, Juve are unbeaten in their previous 34 league games (W29, D5), more than double the next best streak (Lazio's 15).

- This term, Cristiano Ronaldo equalled the record of 11 consecutive goalscoring appearances in a single Serie A season. He has also already levelled his haul of goals from 2018-19 despite making nine fewer appearances, averaging 0.95 goals per game compared to 0.68 last season.

- Among the players who made their debut in the three-points era, Ronaldo was the fastest to reach 42 goals (52 appearances) – before him the record was 58 games played (Vincenzo Montella, Andriy Shevchenko and Brazil great Ronaldo).

LAZIO

- Lazio are unbeaten in their previous 21 league games (W17 D4), already an all-time Serie A record for the club. Six of the seven previous teams with streaks as long as that in a single season went on to win the Scudetto (the only exception was Roma in 2009-10).

- Ciro Immobile has 27 goals in 26 games in 2019-20. Only Antonio Valentin Angelillo (29) in has managed more after 26 matchdays.

INTER

- Antonio Conte is the first Inter coach to see his team score in each of his first 19 games in all competitions.

- Inter have won nine of their 13 Serie A away games this season (D2 L2): only in the 2006-07 campaign have the Nerazzurri won more (11).

- Romelu Lukaku is one of three players to have scored at least 17 Serie A goals in their first 25 games of a debut season with Inter, emulating Giuseppe Meazza (1929-30) and Stefano Nyers (1948-49).

ATALANTA

- Atalanta's 70 goals in this Serie A campaign already represents their second-best haul in a single season (77 in 2018-19).

- No team has scored as many as 70 goals in the first 25 matches of a single Serie A season since 1959, when Fiorentina netted 79.

- Three Atalanta players are into double-figures in terms of goals in this season: Josip Ilicic, Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata. Only in 1949-50 and 1951-52 have the club had as many players reach 10 goals.

MILAN

- Since Stefano Pioli joined Milan, they have kept the most clean sheets in Serie A (seven).

- Milan have increased their winning percentage since the turn of the year across Serie A and the Coppa Italia. It was 35 per cent in 2019, rising to 50 per cent in the new year – they also increased their goals per game from 0.9 to 1.7.

- Since his first spell at Milan (which began in August 2010), Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored 60 goals for the Rossoneri in all competitions, more than any other player with the club in the period.

Serie A is ready to return, with Italy's sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora having confirmed the league will be able to resume from June 20.

There has been no action in Italy's top flight since March 9 and the league is delicately poised at both ends of the table.

Juventus and Lazio are embroiled in a fascinating title race and, though they are eight points adrift in third, Inter may not consider themselves out of the running just yet due to their game in hand.

There are up to six teams in realistic danger of relegation, while Atalanta and Roma are vying for a spot in the Champions League places.

Here are the key fixtures for each remaining matchday.

 

MD28: Brescia v Genoa

If Brescia, who sit nine points adrift of safety, are to pull off an incredible escape they will need to hit the ground running when play restarts. A home match against Genoa, who are only outside the bottom three on goal difference, is a great opportunity to do just that.

MD29: Atalanta v Napoli, Parma v Hellas Verona

Atalanta and Napoli both have to play five of the other six teams in the top seven before the end of the season, so their meeting could play a big role on their momentum in the final stretch. Parma or Hellas Verona – eighth and ninth respectively – could make a late bid for European football with three points here.

MD30: Juventus v Torino, Napoli v Roma

As Juve attempt to fend off Lazio, their first big fixture comes in the form of the Turin derby on matchday 30. This round of games also sees Champions League-chasing Napoli and Roma go head-to-head at the San Paolo.

MD32: Juventus v Atalanta, Napoli v Milan

Another huge match in Juve's title defence comes against Atalanta, who by this stage will be hoping their Champions League bid is still on. Gennaro Gattuso, meanwhile, will face his former club Milan, who will be looking to cement their place in the European qualification spots.

MD34: Juventus v Lazio

There will be only one place to be on matchday 34, as the two title contenders go head to head. With just four fixtures remaining afterwards, it could be the match that settles the title race.

MD35: Lecce v Brescia, Sampdoria v Genoa

The battle for top-flight survival could take some significant turns in this round of matches. The hopes of Lecce and Brescia, the latter of whom face fellow strugglers SPAL the matchday prior, could hinge on this match, while the Derby della Lanterna will take on greater significance if Samp and Genoa remain in precarious positions by this point.

MD37: Inter v Napoli

The success of Inter's season could well centre on a pair of tricky games to end the campaign. If they are able to mount a late charge for Scudetto glory they will certainly have to work hard to see it through, but if it goes the other way they could end up clinching onto a space in the top four.

MD38: Juventus v Roma, Napoli v Lazio, Atalanta v Inter

As fate would have it, the current top six all play each other on the final day of the season and plenty of drama will surely be on offer. The title, Champions League places and Europa League spots could all be decided on an incredible final day.

Serie A has been given the green light to resume on June 20 following a three-month hiatus.

Italy's top flight was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the country's sports minister announced on Thursday the league - and the Coppa Italia - will restart next month.

Juventus are one point clear of Lazio as they chase down a ninth successive Scudetto, while Inter are nine points adrift of top spot with a game in hand to play.

The reigning champions' first league game back is scheduled to be away to Bologna, a week after they take on Milan in the second leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final.

Below is the full list of Serie A games still to be played, including four fixtures carried over from earlier in the season.

 

Matchday 25

Inter v Sampdoria
Hellas Verona v Cagliari
Torino v Parma
Atalanta v Sassuolo

Matchday 27

Atalanta v Lazio
Bologna v Juventus
Fiorentina v Brescia
Genoa v Parma
Hellas Verona v Napoli
Inter v Sassuolo
Lecce v Milan
Roma v Sampdoria
SPAL v Cagliari
Torino v Udinese

Matchday 28

Brescia v Genoa
Cagliari v Torino
Juventus v Lecce
Lazio v Fiorentina
Milan v Roma
Napoli v SPAL
Parma v Inter
Sampdoria v Bologna
Sassuolo v Hellas Verona
Udinese v Atalanta

Matchday 29

Atalanta v Napoli
Bologna v Cagliari
Fiorentina v Sassuolo
Genoa v Juventus
Hellas Verona v Parma
Inter v Brescia
Lecce v Sampdoria
Roma v Udinese
SPAL v Milan
Torino v Lazio

Matchday 30

Brescia v Hellas Verona
Cagliari v Atalanta
Inter v Bologna
Juventus v Torino
Lazio v Milan
Napoli v Roma
Parma v Fiorentina
Sampdoria v SPAL
Sassuolo v Lecce
Udinese v Genoa

Matchday 31

Atalanta v Sampdoria
Bologna v Sassuolo
Fiorentina v Cagliari
Genoa v Napoli
Hellas Verona v Inter
Lecce v Lazio
Milan v Juventus
Roma v Parma
SPAL v Udinese
Torino v Brescia

Matchday 32

Brescia v Roma
Cagliari v Lecce
Fiorentina v Hellas Verona
Genoa v SPAL
Inter v Torino
Juventus v Atalanta
Lazio v Sassuolo
Napoli v Milan
Parma v Bologna
Udinese v Sampdoria

Matchday 33

Atalanta v Brescia
Bologna v Napoli
Lecce v Fiorentina
Milan v Parma
Roma v Hellas Verona
Sampdoria v Cagliari
Sassuolo v Juventus
SPAL v Inter
Torino v Genoa
Udinese v Lazio

Matchday 34

Brescia v SPAL
Cagliari v Sassuolo
Fiorentina v Torino
Genoa v Lecce
Hellas Verona v Atalanta
Juventus v Lazio
Milan v Bologna
Napoli v Udinese
Parma v Sampdoria
Roma v Inter

Matchday 35

Atalanta v Bologna
Inter v Fiorentina
Lazio v Cagliari
Lecce v Brescia
Parma v Napoli
Sampdoria v Genoa
Sassuolo v Milan
SPAL v Roma
Torino v Hellas Verona
Udinese v Juventus

Matchday 36

Bologna v Lecce
Brescia v Parma
Cagliari v Udinese
Genoa v Inter
Hellas Verona v Lazio
Juventus v Sampdoria
Milan v Atalanta
Napoli v Sassuolo
Roma v Fiorentina
SPAL v Torino

Matchday 37

Cagliari v Juventus
Fiorentina v Bologna
Hellas Verona v SPAL
Inter v Napoli
Lazio v Brescia
Parma v Atalanta
Sampdoria v Milan
Sassuolo v Genoa
Torino v Roma
Udinese v Lecce

Matchday 38

Atalanta v Inter
Bologna v Torino
Brescia v Sampdoria
Genoa v Hellas Verona
Juventus v Roma
Lecce v Parma
Milan v Cagliari
Napoli v Lazio
Sassuolo v Udinese
SPAL v Fiorentina

Serie A is the latest of Europe's top leagues to announce a firm date for the return of the 2019-20 season.

Italy's top flight, suspended in March amid the coronavirus crisis, is set to get back underway on June 20.

Debate has raged in the past three months over whether the season should resume or be ended early, as has been done in France, but the Stats Perform AI team have crunched the numbers behind the scenes during the hiatus.

With all 20 teams having either 12 or 13 league matches still to play, their goal was to simulate how the rest of the season would pan out if the games were played now to produce a predicted 2019-20 table.

 

The statistical model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss – based on each team's attacking and defensive quality.

Those ratings are allocated based on four years' worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for improvements or declines in form and performance trends.

The AI simulation takes into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes goals against and rewards them accordingly.

All that data is used to simulate upcoming matches using goal predictions from the Poisson distribution – a detailed mathematical model – with the two teams' attacking and defending ratings used as inputs.

The outcome of the season is then simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

Without further ado, let's have a good look at the results of the simulation with the predicted final league table.

 

JUVENTUS ARE CHAMPIONS... AGAIN

The results in our model see Juventus retain the Scudetto, accumulating 87 points.

Undoubtedly the story of the season in Italy has been the rise of Lazio, who have mounted a genuine title challenge and went into the forced hiatus just one point adrift of the summit.

With Ciro Immobile's goals and Luis Alberto's creativity in midfield, Simone Inzaghi's men have excelled and delighted neutrals with their entertaining football.

But, in our model, Juventus see them off in the title race, with Maurizio Sarri picking up where Massimiliano Allegri left off last term and guiding them to a ninth successive Serie A title.

However, their points haul is their worst since getting the same amount in 2014-15.

INTER SETTLE FOR THIRD

For much of the first half of the season, Inter looked destined to push Juve all the way in the title race.

Under Antonio Conte and with Romelu Lukaku leading the attack following his move from Manchester United, Inter appeared invigorated.

But their dipped after the turn of the year, leaving them nine points off the top when the season was put on hold, though they had a game in hand.

In the simulation they did not recover to overtake either of the top two, finishing third on 79 points. 

Nevertheless, this would still represent an improvement on last season, when they only amassed 69 points and finished fourth.

 

MILAN SCRAPE EUROPA LEAGUE PLACE

It has been a difficult few years for Milan, and this season has not been much better.

Stefano Pioli's appointment as coach late last year has seen them improve somewhat, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic's arrival also giving the team a boost.

But there remains a lot to fix with the Rossoneri, with the squad lacking in quality and the hierarchy at odds with each other.

The simulation has Milan finishing seventh and that would be enough to scrape a Europa League spot, as the other three teams left in the Coppa Italia semi-finals with them are all predicted to end the season higher than Pioli's men in Serie A, therefore qualifying for Europe already.

Roma and Napoli take fifth and sixth, with Atalanta rounding off the Champions League spots in our model thanks to a five-point advantage over the Giallorossi.

SAMPDORIA AVOID THE DROP, RIVALS GENOA NOT SO LUCKY

Only one of the current bottom three escapes relegation in the simulation, with Lecce preserving their top-flight status at the expense of Genoa.

Il Grifone and bitter rivals Sampdoria sit just above the drop zone in reality, but our predicted table sees Genoa drop to Serie B for the first time since 2006-07 – last season they only guaranteed their survival on the final day.

The model has Genoa eventually reaching 36 points, but Samp and Lecce manage to climb to 41, giving them both a healthy five-point cushion.

Brescia unsurprisingly prop up the predicted table, given they are nine points from safety in the real standings. Our AI team give Brescia a 1.8 per cent chance of avoiding relegation.

Also going down in our predicted table are SPAL, whose haul of 29 points - one more than Brescia in this experiment - leaves them well adrift of safety.

Harry Kane is poised to restart his challenge to Alan Shearer's Premier League goals record when the English top flight resumes.

A provisional start date of June 17 has been agreed by stakeholders and the Tottenham striker recently said he would be fully fit from the first game of the division's return.

Kane has not played since January 1, when he suffered a serious hamstring injury – rupturing a tendon in his left leg – during Tottenham's 1-0 defeat at Southampton.

Had the 2019-20 run to its normal calendar, Kane would have been unlikely to play much of a part, if any, of the conclusion to Spurs' season.

But the three-month halt caused by the coronavirus pandemic means Spurs now have their captain back for their final nine games, as they look to bounce back into the European places from their current position of eighth.

Kane's remarkable Premier League record all began with an April purple patch.

At the beginning of April 2014, the man who has gone on to become England captain was a lively enough Tottenham prospect, albeit struggling for game time in the Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor era.

Kane had yet to score in the English top flight, either for Spurs or in an unproductive loan spell at Norwich, although he had done better in stints in the lower leagues with Millwall, Leyton Orient and Leicester City.

His world changed thanks to a stroke of ill-fortune for Soldado, the goal-shy Spaniard injured in a thumping 4-0 defeat at Liverpool, giving Kane a chance to make his first Premier League start.

Tim Sherwood was in his final weeks as Spurs boss, but it was he who promoted Kane and a three-game scoring run was the result, changing the course of Kane's career and Tottenham's history.
 

BAD LUCK FOR BLACK CATS, BLOW TO BAGGIES, COTTAGERS CONDEMNED

Before starting against Sunderland on Monday, April 7, Kane had made eight Premier League appearances in his career - including three for Norwich - and had not netted in 170 minutes of action.

In the 2013-14 Premier League season, he had featured for only 32 minutes in four brief forays from the bench, having a mere two shots.

Sherwood and predecessor Andre Villas-Boas gave Kane plenty of domestic cup and Europa League opportunities, but an EFL Cup strike at Hull had been his only goal of the season.

Kane landed the Premier League goal he craved by prodding home a Christian Eriksen cross from the left in a 5-1 slaying of Sunderland, before headers in the 3-3 fightback at West Brom and 3-1 home win over relegation-bound Fulham gave him three goals in 13 days.

STILL ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES

Starting from the Sunderland game, Kane had 26 shots in six consecutive starts, with an impressive accuracy of 73.3%, let down only by being unable to convert as many of those chances as he would have wanted. Those three in three games were his only Premier League goals of the campaign.

Opta's expected goals model - known as xG - shows that Kane might have done better. He had an xG figure of 4.56 goals for that period, but it would not be long before Kane began exceeding the forecasts of such metrics.

MAKING HIS MARK FOR POCH

Kane was back on the bench for the start of the 2014-15 season as the Mauricio Pochettino era began, but a flood of Europa League and League Cup goals led to inevitable promotion within the Spurs ranks.

He ended that campaign with 21 Premier League games in 34 appearances, netting once every 122.9 minutes of action and far exceeding his 14.46 xG prediction.

GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND

Opta's xG measurements are based on the nature of the chance falling to a player, including looking at whether opportunities are defined as big chances.

Kane has consistently surpassed the xG metrics, demonstrating how clinical he has been, often taking chances when it appeared he stood only a slim chance of scoring.

In 2015-16 he bagged 25 Premier League goals (xG: 21.75), in 2016-17 he grabbed 29 in 30 games (xG: 18.59), in 2017-18 Kane hit 30 goals in the top flight for the first time (xG: 24.79), and last season his 17 goals in 28 games defied xG of 14.77.

During the current, coronavirus-disrupted campaign, Kane has netted 11 times in 20 Premier League games (xG: 7.19), again often proving his team's driving force.

CLIMBING UP THE CHARTS

It all began with that April 2014 burst, with Kane now up to 136 Premier League goals, putting him 13th on the all-time list.

Still just 26 years old, he has plenty of time to move closer to Shearer's record of 260 goals in the competition and is within striking distance of former Tottenham favourites Teddy Sheringham (146), Les Ferdinand (149) and Jermain Defoe (162).

It is little wonder Kane has been linked with the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid, but to Spurs he is surely priceless.

Premier League clubs fearing a cancelled season could decide their fate away from the pitch can breathe a sigh of relief after it was confirmed the top flight is set to return on June 17.

The 20 clubs have either nine or 10 fixtures each still to complete and though the title race may have already nearly reached the finish line, there is plenty to be decided further down the table.

Here, we take a look at the crucial fixtures that will determine the title, European qualification and the battle to avoid relegation.

 

MD30: Tottenham v Manchester United

Scott McTominay's derby-settling winner against Manchester City had helped Ole Gunnar Solskjaer build up plenty of goodwill back in March, but the United momentum has surely been halted by the lengthy break.

They have a tough assignment first up against a Tottenham side that will likely have Harry Kane back from injury.

Solskjaer, whose own squad is set to be boosted by Marcus Rashford's return, has a fine record against the 'big six', though, and a win here - against a club led by his predecessor Jose Mourinho - would boost United's top-four hopes and significantly damage their opponents'.

 

MD31: Liverpool v Crystal Palace

It is a matter of when, rather than if, the Reds wrap up their first top-flight title in three decades, with Liverpool needing just two more wins to guarantee they will be crowned champions.

Should City lose to Arsenal when the league resumes, Liverpool could seal the title across the road from Anfield with a win at Goodison Park.

But the likelihood is Klopp's side will face Palace - the team who helped derail their title bid in 2014 with the 3-3 'Crystanbul' draw - knowing victory would end their long wait for Premier League glory.

 

MD35: Sheffield United v Chelsea

Beyond Liverpool's imperious march to the title, the story of the 2019-20 Premier League season has been the Blades' magnificent campaign following promotion last term.

The top four is still a realistic possibility for Chris Wilder's side, particularly if they can win their game in hand against Aston Villa and close the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea to two points, but they face a fight to qualify for the Europa League regardless.

They still have some tough fixtures left on the schedule, with Wolves, Everton and Tottenham their other three home games, but this contest against Frank Lampard's Blues will have a big say in their Europa League, or Champions League, chances.

 

MD35: Tottenham v Arsenal

Champions League regulars in recent seasons, there is a distinct possibility that neither Tottenham nor north London rivals Arsenal are even in Europe's second-tier competition next term.

Both are currently outside the top seven but within three points of Wolves and the Blades, who currently occupy the final two Europa League spots – presuming City's European ban stands.

This derby therefore has extra significance. The possibility of no European football in 2020-21 could also prompt Kane and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang to seek pastures new when the transfer window reopens...

 

MD36: West Ham v Watford

The destination of the title may be a foregone conclusion but the battle to avoid the drop is far less clear.

Even Norwich City, six points adrift, will believe they can survive given they must still face West Ham, Brighton and Hove Albion and Watford.

Only goal difference currently separates West Ham and Watford from the bottom three and they meet in a pivotal contest towards the back end of the season.

 

MD38: West Ham v Aston Villa

The Hammers are no stranger to final-day drama - their draw with United in 1995 handed the title to Blackburn Rovers, while Carlos Tevez's winner at Old Trafford in 2007 helped ensure they stayed up.

David Moyes' men may need more heroics if the fight to avoid relegation goes to the wire.

Villa will begin the resumption in 19th place, two points behind West Ham, but with a game in hand. All eyes could be on London Stadium on the final day.

After what will have been a three-month absence, the Premier League is set to restart on June 17.

The first games following the coronavirus pandemic will see Manchester City take on Arsenal and Aston Villa play Sheffield United, before a full round of fixtures begins on June 19.

Liverpool are a maximum of two wins away from clinching a first title in 30 years, though they could secure the trophy against Everton at Goodison Park on matchday 30 if City lose their first match back against Arsenal.

There is also plenty to play for in the race for European qualification and the battle against the drop.

We look at the outstanding 92 games in the 2019-20 Premier League season.

Matchday 28

Aston Villa v Sheffield United
Manchester City v Arsenal

Matchday 30

Aston Villa v Chelsea
Bournemouth v Crystal Palace
Brighton and Hove Albion v Arsenal
Everton v Liverpool
Manchester City v Burnley
Newcastle United v Sheffield United
Norwich City v Southampton
Tottenham v Manchester United
Watford v Leicester City
West Ham v Wolves

Matchday 31

Burnley v Watford
Chelsea v Manchester City
Leicester City v Brighton and Hove Albion
Liverpool v Crystal Palace
Manchester United v Sheffield United
Newcastle United v Aston Villa
Norwich City v Everton
Southampton v Arsenal
Tottenham v West Ham
Wolves v Bournemouth

Matchday 32

Arsenal v Norwich City
Aston Villa v Wolves
Bournemouth v Newcastle United
Brighton and Hove Albion v Manchester United
Crystal Palace v Burnley
Everton v Leicester City
Manchester City v Liverpool
Sheffield United v Tottenham
Watford v Southampton
West Ham v Chelsea

Matchday 33

Burnley v Sheffield United
Chelsea v Watford
Leicester City v Crystal Palace
Liverpool v Aston Villa
Manchester United v Bournemouth
Newcastle United v West Ham
Norwich City v Brighton and Hove Albion
Southampton v Manchester City
Tottenham v Everton
Wolves v Arsenal

Matchday 34

Arsenal v Leicester City
Aston Villa v Manchester United
Brighton and Hove Albion v Liverpool
Bournemouth v Tottenham
Crystal Palace v Chelsea
Everton v Southampton
Manchester City v Newcastle United
Sheffield United v Wolves
Watford v Norwich City
West Ham v Burnley

Matchday 35

Aston Villa v Crystal Palace
Bournemouth v Leicester City
Brighton and Hove Albion v Manchester City
Liverpool v Burnley
Manchester United v Southampton
Norwich City v West Ham
Sheffield United v Chelsea
Tottenham v Arsenal
Watford v Newcastle United
Wolves v Everton

Matchday 36

Arsenal v Liverpool
Burnley v Wolves
Chelsea v Norwich City
Crystal Palace v Manchester United
Everton v Aston Villa
Leicester City v Sheffield United
Manchester City v Bournemouth
Newcastle United v Tottenham
Southampton v Brighton and Hove Albion
West Ham v Watford

Matchday 37

Aston Villa v Arsenal
Bournemouth v Southampton
Brighton and Hove Albion v Newcastle United
Liverpool v Chelsea
Manchester United v West Ham
Norwich City v Burnley
Sheffield United v Everton
Tottenham v Leicester City
Watford v Manchester City
Wolves v Crystal Palace

Matchday 38

Arsenal v Watford
Burnley v Brighton and Hove Albion
Chelsea v Wolves
Crystal Palace v Tottenham
Everton v Bournemouth
Leicester City v Manchester United
Manchester City v Norwich City
Newcastle United v Liverpool
Southampton v Sheffield United
West Ham v Aston Villa

It might have taken a long time to be completed, but Manchester United's signing of Bruno Fernandes quickly began to look like one of this season's best pieces of business.

While the player himself insisted he was not responsible for an upturn in form that saw the Red Devils go 11 games unbeaten in all competitions, few can deny the impact he has made since joining in January for an initial fee of £46.5million (€55m).

In fact, his form saw him rewarded with the Premier League Player of the Month award for February, making him the first United player since Anthony Martial to win the prize for the month of his debut.

The 25-year-old was also the first Portuguese player to win the award since Chelsea midfielder Deco in August 2008.

Fernandes will be under pressure to pick up where he left off with the Premier League provsionally scheduled to return on June 17, three months after the coronavirus pandemic forced its suspension.

As Opta data shows, he certainly looks like the man who could fire United back into next season's Champions League...

- Since his debut on February 1, Fernandes has been involved in five Premier League goals, scoring twice and assisting a further three. No other player can match that tally over the same period. The closest are Mohamed Salah (four goals), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (three goals, one assist), Diogo Jota (three goals, one assist), Robert Snodgrass (two goals, two assists), Sadio Mane (three goals, one assist) and Nicolas Pepe (one goal, three assists).

3 - Indeed, no player has managed more Premier League assists since February 1 than Fernandes. Pepe, Roberto Firmino and Ross Barkley are the other players on three.

19 - Perhaps unsurprisingly, Fernandes is top of the charts for attempted shots since his debut. He has recorded 19, as many as Raul Jimenez and Jay Rodriguez and more than Calvert-Lewin and Salah (both 17).

11 - Fernandes has created 11 chances for team-mates (including assists), the same number as Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish, Ondrej Duda and Andrew Robertson. Only three players have recorded more since his debut: Joao Moutinho (12), Dwight McNeil (13) and James Maddison (16).

20 - Fernandes is the 20th different United player to win a Premier League Player of the Month award. That tally is the joint-best in the competition, alongside Arsenal.

The 2019-20 Premier League campaign has at last been given a date from which to resume.

The competition, suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, will return from June 17 and, all being well, be played to its conclusion.

The disruption came with Liverpool just two wins away from a first league title in 30 years, while Manchester United had been improving in pursuit of Champions League qualification.

With the help of Opta, we take a look at the most interesting facts relating to England's 'Big Six' and their campaigns so far.


LIVERPOOL

- Jurgen Klopp's side are top of the pile but do not look as defensively solid as they did in the 2018-19 season. Liverpool have conceded 21 times in the league this term, just one goal fewer than in their entire previous 38-game campaign.

- Roberto Firmino finally ended a long wait for an Anfield goal against Atletico Madrid in March. It was his first home Liverpool strike in 20 games in all competitions since netting against Porto in April 2019, 337 days earlier.

- The Reds were just starting to wobble slightly. With the defeat at home to Atletico, Liverpool had lost four of their past six matches in all competitions – as many defeats as in their previous 67 games.


MANCHESTER CITY

- Manchester City have lost seven Premier League games this season, one more than in their previous two campaigns combined.

- Heading into the break, Sergio Aguero had scored 180 Premier League goals for Manchester City. Only Wayne Rooney – 183 for United – has scored more for a single team in the competition's history, with Aguero passing Thierry Henry – 175 for Arsenal – earlier this term.

- Kevin De Bruyne is the first player to register 15 or more assists in three different Premier League seasons. Only Cesc Fabregas had previously done so in more than one campaign.


CHELSEA

- Chelsea have lost five Premier League home games already this season. Only in 1994-95 – seven times – have they been beaten more often at Stamford Bridge.

- The Blues are also winless away from home in the league in 2020, drawing three and losing one of their four matches. They last endured a longer such run in the 2015-16 season, failing to taste victory over seven straight away trips.

- Frank Lampard has been reliant on homegrown talent this season. Only Leicester City (31) and Southampton (24) have more goals from English players than Chelsea's 21 – level with United.


MANCHESTER UNITED

- United are unbeaten in 11 in all competitions, but their points return of 45 is still their lowest through 29 games of a Premier League season.

- Bruno Fernandes inspired their change in fortunes, though, and he has been involved in more Premier League goals (five – two goals, three assists) since his February 1 debut than any other player.

- At 25 years and 86 days old, United have the youngest average starting XI in the Premier League this season.


TOTTENHAM

- No side have kept fewer clean sheets in the Premier League than Tottenham's four this season. The last time they kept so few in the first 29 matches of a campaign was in 2006-07 (also four).

- Spurs had been missing Harry Kane (131.18 minutes per goal), Son Heung-min (152.31 mins per goal) and January signing Steven Bergwijn (280.5 mins per goal) through injury. Dele Alli has the best minutes per goal ratio – 298 – among the rest of the squad in all competitions this season. Perhaps the break may have done them some good...


ARSENAL

- Arsenal have drawn 13 Premier League games this season – already their highest such tally since 17 in 1993-94.

- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's 17 goals have been worth 16 points to Arsenal this season. Only Sadio Mane's 14 goals have been worth more (18 points) to a single club.

Pierino Prati scored a hat-trick as AC Milan won the European Cup in 1969 and Francesco Totti played the final match of his career on this day three years ago.

May 28 will always be a special date in Milan's history, with Prati the hero in a 4-1 defeat of Johan Cruyff's Ajax at the Santiago Bernabeu.

A tearful Totti said his goodbyes after 25 years with Roma, fittingly bowing out with a Serie A victory over Genoa and it is 23 years since Borussia Dortmund won the Champions League.

There was also a day to remember for Klay Thompson in 2016, when he set an NBA playoff record for three-pointers in a match to keep the Golden State Warriors' season alive.

 

1969 - Prati punishes Ajax

Real Madrid greats Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stefano were the only players to score a European Cup final hat-trick until Prati's Madrid masterclass.

The clinical forward was on target with a header, a venomous strike from outside the penalty and an opportunistic finish as the great Cruyff was upstaged.

Angelo Sormani also found the back of the net for the Rossoneri as they lifted the famous trophy for a second time.

Prati, Puskas and Di Stefano remain the only three men to have scored hat-tricks in the biggest match in European football.

 

1997 - Riedle double puts Dortmund in dreamland

Dortmund delivered in their first Champions League final, beating the mighty Juventus 3-1 in Munich.

Germany striker Karl-Heinz Riedle put the Bundesliga side in charge with a quickfire first-half brace, turning in from close range before heading beyond Angelo Peruzzi.

Juve had a goal disallowed before Alessandro Del Piero pulled one back with a sublime backheel.

Dortmund-born substitute Lars Ricken magnificently restored the two-goal cushion with his first touch and there was no way back for Juve as Ottmar Hitzfeld's side celebrated their finest hour at the home of rivals Bayern Munich.

 

2016 - Three and easy on Klay's day

The Golden State Warriors needed their stars to step up when they faced the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.

They had pegged the Thunder's series lead back to 3-2 with a victory two days earlier and had to win again in Oklahoma City in order to force a decider.

It was Thompson who starred to silence the Thunder fans, on target with a playoff record 11 attempts from behind the line and finishing with a 41-point haul.

The defending champions went on to win the final match of the series but went down 4-3 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals.

 

2017 – Eternal great Totti finishes on a high note

After a quarter of a century in the famous colours of Roma, the time finally came for Totti to bow out three years ago.

The one-club man was given a magnificent send-off from the fans who watched him captain his boyhood club for as many as 18 years.

Forward Totti, a World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, scored 307 goals in 786 games for the Eternal City giants.

Totti came off the bench to a standing ovation in his swansong versus Genoa and Diego Perotti's last-gasp strike snatched a 3-2 victory to secure second spot and a place in the group stage of the Champions League.

Lionel Messi delivered a moment of history for Barcelona on this day in 2009, as Manchester United lost the Champions League final in Rome.

Arsene Wenger also has fond memories of May 27 from his Arsenal career, having achieved an unprecedented FA Cup feat at Wembley three years ago.

Shane Watson powered Chennai Super Kings to 2018 IPL glory, while back in 1995, the great Jonah Lomu scored the first tries of a famous New Zealand career.

Join us in looking back on some memorable moments from this day in years gone by.

 

1995 – Jonah Lomu scores his first tries for New Zealand

One of rugby union's all-time most famous faces made his mark on this day back in 1995.

Lomu scored his first two tries for New Zealand as they claimed a 43-19 win over Ireland in a Pool C clash at the Rugby World Cup in Johannesburg.

He finished the tournament as joint-top try-scorer on seven as the All Blacks reached the final, where they were famously beaten by hosts South Africa.

Lomu tragically died at the age of 40 in November 2015.

2018 – Shane Watson scores unbeaten century as Chennai Super Kings win the IPL

It is two years since a spectacular innings from Watson secured Indian Premier League glory for Chennai Super Kings.

Questioned for putting their faith in a squad of players approaching the end of their careers, it was fitting that Chennai's triumph would be sealed by 36-year-old Watson's unbeaten 117 from 57 balls.

Watson hit eight sixes and 11 fours to dominate the contest, the Super Kings easing to an eight-wicket win with nine balls remaining.

 

2009 – Barcelona beat Manchester United in the Champions League final

Barcelona became champions of Europe on this day 11 years ago, denying Manchester United a piece of history and securing their own place in the record books.

Holders United were looking to become the first team to win back-to-back Champions Leagues in the modern format but were dealt an early blow when Samuel Eto'o squeezed a 10th-minute shot past Edwin van der Sar.

A header from Lionel Messi – a goal he still considers the most important of his career – made it 2-0 in the second half as Barca won the treble for the first time in their history in Pep Guardiola's first season in charge.

2017 – Arsenal beat Chelsea in FA Cup final as Wenger wins the trophy for a seventh time

Arsene Wenger became the most successful manager in FA Cup history three years ago when he lifted the trophy for a seventh time.

Premier League champions Chelsea were favourites, but a fourth-minute goal from Alexis Sanchez set the tone for the final.

Victor Moses' red card 68 minutes in made life tougher for the Blues and, although Diego Costa grabbed an equaliser, Aaron Ramsey struck what proved to be the winner three minutes later.

Aside from Wenger's feat – his 10th major trophy as Gunners boss – it was a final fondly remembered by fans for the performance of Per Mertsesacker, who was outstanding at the heart of defence.

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