Do the remaining nine Premier League matches really matter?
Premier League trophy. [Courtesy]

One of the major questions on the lips of every football fan is whether the Premier League season will reach its conclusion.

There are plans for a restart probably next month with use of new rules including use of more substitutes and doing away with VAR, but does it actually matter when it comes to the final standings if season is completed?

All 20 Premier League clubs are committed to finishing the season, but what if that proves impossible? If the campaign cannot be completed, one option could see the table as it stands now (after 29 games for most teams) declared final.

Liverpool would win the title and Leicester and Chelsea would go into the Champions League along with either Manchester City or United depending on how City’s appeal against their European ban goes.

Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich would go down.

BBC Sport has looked back over the previous 10 Premier League seasons to see how much has changed in the final nine games to get a sense of whether those matches actually tend to impact on the table.

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Perhaps surprisingly, it turns out the significance of these late-season fixtures is actually fairly minimal.

Looking at title winners, Champions League qualifiers and relegation, an average of just over one of those changes every season during the run-in – that’s 11 differences in 10 years, and only two in the past four. 

In the past 10 Premier League seasons, the leaders have changed three times between game week 29 and the final table.

Liverpool – 25 points clear at the top – are unlikely to suffer the fate of Chelsea in 2013-14 or Manchester United in 2011-12 or 2009-10.

Chelsea had been seven points clear of anyone at this stage six years ago – albeit having played more games – but ended up in third, four points behind champions Manchester City. United squandered a one-point lead at the top in 2012 and two points in 2010 as City and Chelsea won those respective titles by narrow margins.

There was only one major change to the table last season between games 29 and 38 as Chelsea moved from sixth to third and United dropped from fourth to sixth.

The Blues did have a game in hand after the 29th round of matches and were only two points behind United, however.

They are one of only two teams in the past decade to take a Champions League spot having not been in the top four with nine rounds left.

In 2012-13 Tottenham squandered a seven-point advantage over Arsenal (who had one game in hand) as Arsene Wenger’s side ended up in the Champions League places instead of their rivals.

That turnaround would still give hope to Manchester United, Wolves, Sheffield United and Tottenham, who are all within seven points of fourth-placed Chelsea – if the season is played to an end.

The most common change to the table has been the relegation places – with six changes in the previous 10 years.

Wigan were the great survivors twice, staying up in 2010-11 and 2011-12 having been in the drop zone with nine rounds to go.

The biggest change was the 2010-11 season when Wigan and Wolves escaped and Birmingham and Blackpool went down. Only West Ham failed to get out of the bottom three in the final nine weeks.

In 2011-12 Wigan caught up six points on Blackburn in the closing weeks to send Rovers down. And in 2013-14 Sunderland used their three games in hand to stay up at the expense of Norwich.

The 2014-15 season saw probably the most consequential survival in Premier League history.

Leicester were bottom of the table, seven points adrift of safety and nine behind Hull at this stage of the season – with just one game in hand. But a remarkable run saw them stay up as Hull went down. The Foxes won the Premier League title the next season.

Those turnarounds would give plenty of hope to Bournemouth and Aston Villa, who are only in the bottom three on goal difference and by two points respectively.

Watford, West Ham and Brighton – all within two points of the relegation zone – would breathe a huge sigh of relief if this table ends up being the final version.

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