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Premier League sets new standards

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Alistair Magowan - BBC Sport | 14:44 UK time, Monday, 23 May 2011

"One goal now could change it all. It's maddening, it's enthralling, it's the English Premier League and there is nothing quite like it."

That was the verdict of BBC football commentator Jonathan Pearce during Wolves' 3-2 defeat by Blackburn on Sunday, where Stephen Hunt's late strike meant both teams survived to enjoy the madness again next season.

It could also quite easily pass as a judgment on the whole season, where the emergence of new names, a new side and a general narrowing of teams' points totals made the Premier League as unpredictable as it has ever been.

"An absolutely fantastic season, one of the best ever," said former Liverpool defender and Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen. "I think the fact that the big sides were regularly beaten by some of the lesser sides just made it complete."

Defensive connoisseurs might want to look away now but this season was perhaps the most entertaining yet.


Goals per game are up this Premier League season while clean sheets are down

There were a record 2.8 goals per game, the most hat-tricks in a 20 team Premier League season (17), and the fewest number of clean sheets - 191 out of a possible 760.

But for those who regard that as further proof of a league which is high on entertainment but low on technical quality there is also evidence to suggest otherwise.

While there were more headed goals compared to the previous two seasons, there were also more goals from open play.

And based on figures over the last three seasons, the number of passes has increased overall as well as their accuracy. The number of dribbles attempted is also on the up, while the percentage of long passes of 35 yards or over has dropped to a level below the last two seasons.

That has all resulted in more drawn games and fewer away wins, something that champions Manchester United can attest to.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side managed only five wins on the road all season, a figure they shared with relegated Blackpool, who lit up the Premier League with an attacking approach rarely seen from newly-promoted teams.

In fact, if any team were to epitomise the extra goals and fewer clean sheets change then it would be Ian Holloway's side.

Captain Charlie Adam demonstrated his ability to play in the top tier, but his fellow team-mates in defence suffered, conceding 78 goals this season - that is seven more than West Brom and eight more than West Ham.

"If you aim for the stars, you might hit the moon," said Holloway after being relegated. "I have nothing but pride for my players and the way they have performed. I am ready for the fight to get us back."

Blackpool's 55 goals almost saved the Tangerines and 56 strikes did wonders for West Brom, but it was the lack of goal threat that was Birmingham's downfall.

Averaging less than one a game, the 37 goals that Blues registered was the league's lowest total and only Craig Gardner hit double figures this season in all competitions.

The frustrating thing for West Ham fans must be the fact that at various points during the season they have looked capable of winning more than seven league games.


Blackpool conceded the most goals this season while West Ham could not hang onto a lead

Hanging on to a lead was a huge issue for Avram Grant's side, illustrated by their terminal collapse at Wigan the weekend before last. If games had finished at the hour mark, the Hammers would have had 16 more points to their name, giving them a bigger increase than any other Premier League side.

That might indicate a mental problem, or perhaps fitness issues, but they also suffered from a lack of a regular goalscorer with leading marksmen Demba Ba finding the net only seven times, despite joining the club in January.

West Brom striker Peter Odemwingie proved his value at the Hawthorns with 15 league goals after signing from Lokomotiv Moscow last August. Mention must also go to Baggies boss Roy Hodgson, who has guided his team well clear of the bottom of the table to finish 11th.

Yet it was a season in which many of the mid-table teams have flirted with relegation at some point.

In the final reckoning, just 10 points covered eighth-placed Fulham and relegated teams Birmingham and Blackpool, and the likes of Aston Villa and Sunderland only pulled clear of danger in the final stages of the season.

Newcastle and Bolton managed to steer clear of relegation stresses and had relatively successful seasons, Bolton more so until they were deflated by their FA Cup semi-final loss to Stoke.

The Potters, meanwhile, can look back on a hugely encouraging term, as they reached their first FA Cup final and qualified for the Europa League next season.


West Brom went on a good run after Roy Hodgson was appointed while Villa also struggled to hang onto leads

Above them, Fulham, Everton and Liverpool all benefitted from strong second halves to their seasons, with the Reds boosted by Kenny Dalglish's return to the Anfield hot seat and the arrival of new signing Luis Suarez.

Since King Kenny returned on 8 January only Manchester United and Chelsea have earned more points than the 33 the Reds have picked up.

Their Merseyside neighbours were hampered by injuries again this term but managed to use the fewest number of players in the league, while Fulham weathered a long period without Bobby Zamora by remaining firm at the back. Mark Hughes' team conceded the fewest goals from set-pieces.

Despite two defeats since Dalglish's job was made permanent, the Scot will want to crack the top four next season, and it looks like the table summit is developing into a six-way rivalry.

Tottenham were let down by their home form where the nine games they drew were more than any other team. Arsenal, on the other hand, will need to further bolster a defence which conceded a high ratio of goals from set-pieces.

Manchester City might have received scorn for their defensive approach at times this season but their 18 clean sheets is three better than Manchester United or Chelsea and, unlike Arsenal, they have a trophy to show for their efforts this season to go with their automatic Champions League place.


Chelsea's mid-term collapse was not helped by their record against the big four while City were miserly in defence

Roberto Mancini's side will no doubt recruit further players this summer and now Chelsea are set to begin a period of transition following Carlo Ancelotti's sacking, it could mean that City are the ones to rival Manchester United next term.

City and Chelsea struggled against the top four teams this season and both fell short of Manchester United's goals tally of 78, which is way down on the 97 goals Ferguson's side scored in 1999/00.

Part of that is down to United's away form, where they drew 10 games, the most of any team in the league this season.

As former United midfielder Nicky Butt said: "It didn't surprise me that Manchester United won the title, but it did surprise me how weak the other [challenging] teams were.

"Chelsea made a great start and I thought they would be the team to beat to win the title. To United's credit, and as the manager always says, they came good after Christmas and he has proved the point again this year. It's not where you are through the league it's where you end up."

You can argue what all this means for the English national team yet for the neutral the Premier League remains enthralling.

For those more heavily involved from fans to players to managers, maddening probably only describes the half of it.

You can also discuss more tactical issues and suggest future ideas on Twitter

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Fantastic season - the English PL is without doubt the best football league in the world.

    As it happens, the Championship is pretty good too!

  • Comment number 2.

    Everton also got 11 points from the 'big 4' but of course no mention about that.

  • Comment number 3.

    Enjoyed the season....There is really a big chasm compared to other leagues. I watched madrid wallop Almeria 8-1 and understood why nothing can match the competitiveness and unpredictability in the EPL...

    On to the Next Season...Sad Carlo was sacked.. Chelsea really need to fathom the term continuity...But I guess it's good for my Red Devils

  • Comment number 4.

    jonathon pearce is an arrogant expletive.

    that aside, i think this can only be interpreted as a sign of a healthy, competetive league. if there is a reduced gap between top and bottom then one of two things has happened: either the top sides are gettin worse or the bottom sides are getting better. luckily, european football provides a frame of reference, and with spurs doing so well in their first european campaign, and arsenal chelsea and united all doing fairly well as per - united with the chance to win the CL again - you would have to say that it is a case of the bottom teams getting stronger rather than the top getting worse

  • Comment number 5.


    This season only confirmed what everyone already knew - that the top PL sides have huge work to do in the transfer market to stay anywhere near the standard set by La Liga's top 2.



  • Comment number 6.

    I love the EPL and Championship. Thorough entertainment. Put's La Liga and Serie A to shame.

    Barcelona, you may have a fantastic side, but you play in a poor and boring league.

  • Comment number 7.

    Brilliant! Shows the strength and depth in the PL! Clubs like Blackpool etc can really challenge by just going for it!

    But less viewing for the big 6, look at this dream team of 6-18th sides; http://markbritton7.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/premier-league-round-up-alternative-best-xi/ - A good viewing, especially other parts of this blog too - But the strength an depth of the PL. That mid-table clubs can have players like Odemwingie, Dempsey, etc shows how good this league is. Any one of 5 to win it next year. Thrilling.

    Great blog, too!

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm an American and I started watching the EPL about 5 years ago. I think the idea that teams can drop to a lower league is pretty cool. We don't have anything that is the equivalent here. It does add a whole new dimension of excitement to the end of the season.

    That said, I don't understand why the EPL doesn't have some sort of play off system. While the end was exciting for finding out who would be dropped, the other end of the table was the opposite.

    I watched the match where Manchester United won the league. I stopped watching it before it was over though because it was just too embarrassing, watching them just quit playing with time left. What an opportunity is missed when a few top teams could vie for that trophy rather than just having it decided early on.

    Just a thought from someone new to the game.

  • Comment number 9.

    In a similar vein to #2 - Newcastle got 10 points against the 'big four'.

    Not quite sure why these teams have been omitted...

    Anyway, it's been a good season. As a NUFC fan it's been a bit of a rollercoaster but I've been happy to avoid any relegation worries all season, especially with the changes in personel and injuries we've had. There's been some fantastic games too! (5-1 vs Sunderland and 4-4 vs Arsenal spring to mind!)

    I expect this will be a season to remember for a long time.

  • Comment number 10.

    So in this Everton are only mentioned once, and even then are called Liverpool's "Merseyside neighbours"
    -And completely blanked in the "points against the top four" category- despite coming higher than most!
    Not impressed at all.

  • Comment number 11.

    Competitive? That is an absolute joke!

    The greed is good 'competitive' League has provided the following.

    Man Utd - Champions for the 12th season out of 19 Competitive?
    Man Utd - Top 4 Every season! Competitive?
    Either Man Utd or Chelsea as league champions in each of the last seven seasons. Competitive?
    Man Utd dropping two points at home all season! Competitive?

    Please do not believe the SKY hype. English football is NOT competive since Sky purchased the game. Yes, It's exciting at the bottom but that's because of the general poor quality of the have nots.

    Basically the only chance a team in England has of been 'competitive' is if they are purchased by Billionaire Sheikhs or Russians.

    The Premier League is a cash cow designed solely to make rich men richer at the expense of the every day fan. What is worrying is a lot of these fans then worship the league which fleeces them! Propaganda appears to work on the English football fan.

  • Comment number 12.

    2, 9 and 10.

    Before you all get your knickers in a twist, it's obvious that that table shows Big Four points against Big Four teams. So put your inferiority complexes away...

  • Comment number 13.

    Liverpool did not win the most points out of the "BIG 4" they are NOT IN the "BIG 4" they did not qualify for ECL last season and did not qualify for europe this season.

  • Comment number 14.

    One of the worst and most predictable seasons ever.

  • Comment number 15.

    #12, I did think this but then I noticed that Liverpool were included. They were not in the 'big 4' last season, nor this season at any point.

    Not an inferiority complex, just a slightly misleading graphic. I'm not bothered about Newcastle not being mentioned, I just think it's misleading to include Liverpool in this table as it doesn't really illustrate any point.

  • Comment number 16.

    JR - The season is exactly that, all teams play each other twice, once home once away. The team at the end of the season with the most points wins. It's as simple as that. None of this stupic playoffs to see who wins. Win the league win the title. best team over the season. We have an FA Cup for the other option.

  • Comment number 17.

    I'm sorry but this is just hype. A division in which the top 4 teams finish in the same positions so many times year on year, they actually dub them "top 4 teams" instead of calling them by their names. Sound exciting to you? Sounds boring to me.

  • Comment number 18.

    Premiership has the best and most exciting football in Europe, if not the whole world. La Liga is just a very very very good SPL: only 2 teams will ever win the league during the season. Italian football is just dull. The only league that could rival the Premiership is the Bundesliga.

  • Comment number 19.

    The last day was a brilliant advert for the Prem : 9 full houses, stacks of goals, late drama and endless change in fortune. J Pearce coudn't have put it any better.

  • Comment number 20.

    P.S The Championship is much more value for money, purely for the fact that the winners and also rans go up, thus ensuring a different winner each year, guaranteed. And you want to talk about a division where the same teams win year after year and try to tell me I should be excited about that? Pfffft. Each to his own I suppose.

  • Comment number 21.

    A wonderful season.
    Wonderful last day.
    Of course it's periods of dominance for Man Utd/Arsenal (due to manager's reign) and Chelsea/Man City (money) but it's been incredible. The league is more competitive, 31 points was safe last year. This year another 3wins and you still weren't safe.

    Wolves have been the worst team I've seen defensively this year yet they've made it. Birmingham couldn't score and they didnt make it. Blackpool could score and yet did make it. The likes of Arsenal and Spurs have tailed off dramatically whilst Liverpool and Everton fought back from the increasingly competitive mid table.

    The signing of the season had the same amount of Premier League goals as DJ Campbell. And don't be telling me that Hernandez isn't primarily a goalscorer.

    It's been a fabulous season. Potentially a 5way battle next year.

    Potentially.

  • Comment number 22.


    The fact that 9 of Barcelona's first 11 would walk into United's team, and all 11 of Real's plus manager would walk into the Chelsea or Arsenal teams, gives you a very good idea why the EPL is supposedly "close" and "unpredictable" hehe



  • Comment number 23.

    This season only confirmed what everyone already knew - that the top PL sides have huge work to do in the transfer market to stay anywhere near the standard set by La Liga's top 2.
    -------------------
    Yes, Man United, with their 3rd CL final in 4 years and Chelsea with their 3 league titles in 6, must outspend Real Madrid in the transfer market so they can reach the heights of beating Spurs.

  • Comment number 24.

    #2 stu the blue #9 tillsworth #10 everton clan member

    Apologies for not thoroughly mentioning your teams, this blog was getting pretty long already so it was impossible to give every team a through going over. I tried to concentrate on the key highlights. Although as far as Everton go, if you look at the West Brom graphic you can see how good the Toffees have been in the latter part of the season. Only Chelsea have earned more points since 14 February. But why do they always start so badly?

    #13 Kurtis-E-Bear you are right, Liverpool did not finish in the top four last season but are renowned in recent seasons as one of the "Big Four", they just weren't that big this season or last! I have a feeling that may change next year though and to have two seasons where Spurs and Man City are getting Champions League spots only serves the Premier League well I think. Shame more teams cannot break into the top tier now, it would be better all round.

  • Comment number 25.

    You can argue what all this means for the English national team yet for the neutral the Premier League remains enthralling.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    To be honest, I no longer really care about the national team. There is one tournament every two years, compared to the four that Chelsea compete in (or rather three, Carling Cup doesn't count). And England don't look like winning anything in the near future either. I wish Lamps and Terry would hang up their international boots, they don't get the recognition they deserve and it only hinders their club performances. What really matters is that we just had the most exciting Premier League performance ever, and that matters more to me than England.

  • Comment number 26.

    #23 "Yes, Man United, with their 3rd CL final in 4 years and Chelsea with their 3 league titles in 6, must outspend Real Madrid in the transfer market so they can reach the heights of beating Spurs."

    That's right, Man Utd lose the second of those CL finals convincingly to Barca and are highly predicted to do the same in the third. How many times in the 4 years you cite does a Prem team knock a Liga team out of the CL instead of vice versa. If you say "once!" I say "EXACTLY!"

    You need to watch El Clasico more often to realize quite how far ahead Real and Barca are ahead of the rest.

  • Comment number 27.

    Because the top 4 positions has been occupied by similar teams over the last few years does not mean the Premier League is boring. Name me a year when Barca and Real Madrid weren't in the top 2 in La Liga. Or a year where the Milan teams were not in the Serie A top teams. These are the leagues that we are comparing the PL against.

    Just because the best are the best does not mean its boring at all! Next year is going to be huge! Man U, Arsenal, Chelsea and City fighting it out again, with Liverpool Tottenham and Everton (if they stop starting their season in about March) to push them all the way!

    Roll on August!

  • Comment number 28.

    wake up and smell the coffee people - 5 teams have one the top flight in 21yrs - 3 in the last 14 yrs - 2 in the last 7.
    that's not competitive or exciting. man u win the league with the aid of a debatable penalty - not seen that before! how exciting.
    and why must everyone in the media insist on adding quotation marks to the big four. it was your collective incompetence and general lack of understanding that branded them with that title. by the way, big does not equal successfull. by all means call them the successful four but not big. Newcastle averaged 45K last year in the second tier! - chelsea, man c and liverpool would sell their grannies for that. would man u average that - doubt it. big is a measure of size not wealth or success.
    why not do a league of injuries against deflections/own goals and penalties - guarantee it wont look any different to the one you see now.

  • Comment number 29.

    #26 This blog is about the excitement of the league and not individual teams. La Liga is one of the worst adverts for competition going. 4th place was closer to 20th than it was to 1st, which is a shocking indictment of how dull that title race is and looks to be for years to come.

  • Comment number 30.

    You say there is a 6 way rivalry at the top, but the hides the fact that only Man Utd or Chelsea will win the league. Maybe Man City next year, but that is at a stretch. Point is, you pretty much know who will win the league, so how is that fun or competitive? The competitiveness is at the bottom and for 4th place (and even that is at a stretch.) Surely, the Bundesliga for sheer unpredictability is better, each season about 8 teams have a realistic chance of winning. Who would have said Dortumund would be anywhere near the top, let alone win, after they lost on the opening day?

  • Comment number 31.

    Going through the postings it's quite entertaining to read views suggesting that top four in the premiership are boring because they're always the same, while Barcelona and Real Madrid are on another level....

    You will never please bad losers!

  • Comment number 32.

    u say all this pl stuff is good. no one ever gives mention to npower 2. i know the quality is less butthis is a massive league wiv conference teams makin their names this season.and teams goin up. peterbourough was in league 2 in the season of 07/08 and they avent come bck since. meanwhile there were a shock of the year perhaps happened when lincoln went down they were in 14th through mid season and went down after they lost and barnet won on the last day of the season. and all strikers out of the teams hit double figures.

  • Comment number 33.

    @8:
    We don't because it adds a much higher element of luck. Over the course of a season, you can be 99% sure that the best team will win the league, but in a play off? All you'd need is to squeeze in fourth then get lucky/have a few one off good performances to win the league. As far as I can see, the only reason we have playoffs is for the reasons you were suggesting- it makes it much more exciting to watch as worse teams can still win.
    A similar idea was suggested a while back, that is for the fourth champions league slot to be a playoff for teams finishing 4th-7th. David Moyes commented at the time (very honestly, as Everton would definitely benefit from that) "Imagine if Harry Redknapp had an amazing season at Spurs and finished in fourth place, and Liverpool had a shocking season and came 7th. It would be very harsh on Spurs to lose out to Liverpool in such a manner" or words to that effect anyway, I can't remember the exact quote.

  • Comment number 34.

    11.At 18:11 23rd May 2011, JamTay1 wrote:
    Competitive? That is an absolute joke!

    The greed is good 'competitive' League has provided the following.

    Man Utd - Champions for the 12th season out of 19 Competitive?
    Man Utd - Top 4 Every season! Competitive?
    Either Man Utd or Chelsea as league champions in each of the last seven seasons. Competitive?
    Man Utd dropping two points at home all season! Competitive?

    Please do not believe the SKY hype. English football is NOT competive since Sky purchased the game. Yes, It's exciting at the bottom but that's because of the general poor quality of the have nots.

    Basically the only chance a team in England has of been 'competitive' is if they are purchased by Billionaire Sheikhs or Russians.

    The Premier League is a cash cow designed solely to make rich men richer at the expense of the every day fan. What is worrying is a lot of these fans then worship the league which fleeces them! Propaganda appears to work on the English football fan.

    Well said Jamtay1, we are arrogant to say that the Scottish league is two teams, well in England it is one team.

    In the 70/80's when Liverpool were dominating during their 5 European Cup appearances, 3 other teams were not only winning the league title (Villa, Forest and Everton), 2 also won the European Cup, and Everton were 1 game away fromwinning 3 trophies in 85.

    Look at the dross that United have to beat and yes the Premier League has set new standards !!!!!!!!!!!! but those taken in by the propogandists would not recognise the 70/80's anyway -after all football only began in 1992.

  • Comment number 35.

    The Premier League is the best league in the world. It's competitive in a sense. A sense that Chelsea lost 9 times, unthinkable under Mourinho, United were poor away (if teams had played the Blackpool way at Old Trafford, maybe they would have dropped more points at home), and Arsenal being Arsenal.

    That's as competitive as it gets. Everyone knows Everton aren't going to go and win the league next season and the only way another team will win the league is with investment. Maybe when there's 10 billionaire owners we'll finally get a competitive title race.

    But it beats Scotland and Spain where only two teams have a chance. While only two have won here since 2005, Arsenal have been close and City and Liverpool be soon challenging. United always being at the top is down to Ferguson. When he finally leaves, we might see United fade a little.

    But our league is best because of the fans. The support spread around the country, down to the second and third tiers. You don't get that in any other league.

  • Comment number 36.

    25.At 18:45 23rd May 2011, Luiz_and_McEachran_Guide_Us_to_The_Title wrote:
    You can argue what all this means for the English national team yet for the neutral the Premier League remains enthralling.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    To be honest, I no longer really care about the national team. There is one tournament every two years, compared to the four that Chelsea compete in (or rather three, Carling Cup doesn't count). And England don't look like winning anything in the near future either. I wish Lamps and Terry would hang up their international boots, they don't get the recognition they deserve and it only hinders their club performances. What really matters is that we just had the most exciting Premier League performance ever, and that matters more to me than England.
    .................................................................................................................

    #25 You should be ashamed of yourself, thank god we don't have to rely on people like you in the conflict across the world. As for Terry and Lampard, I agree they should hang up their boots for England but not for the reasons you quoted. Roll on the day Abramovich gets bored and decides to walk away with his wallet, you'll be experiencing a survival sunday like lots of true supporters (not glory hunters).

  • Comment number 37.


    23. At 18:36 23rd May 2011, nit123esh wrote:

    "Yes, Man United, with their 3rd CL final in 4 years and Chelsea with their 3 league titles in 6, must outspend Real Madrid in the transfer market so they can reach the heights of beating Spurs."


    You better ask Chelsea and Arsenal supporters themselves, and maybe United's ones now or on Saturday night, how pleased they are with their current squads and performances throughout the season.

    Also, you understand that the reason the final isn't an all-Spanish one is that they were drawn in the semi? And that if any of the 2 were in the current EPL they'd MOST LIKELY be a good 15 points clear?



  • Comment number 38.

    "Going through the postings it's quite entertaining to read views suggesting that top four in the premiership are boring because they're always the same, while Barcelona and Real Madrid are on another level.... You will never please bad losers!"

    I suppose when the simple have no facts, they resort to namecalling. Can't really blame them, it's all they know. By the same argument, it's always entertaining reading part-time armchair

  • Comment number 39.

    Maybe not the most "technically proficient" league, but certainly the most eciting to follow.

    The increase in the numebr of passes may be entirely down to Arsenal, who continued to dominate possession and pass the ball around while forgetting that the aim of football is to get it into the back of your opponents net.

    On that point, I take iue with the paragraph which reads :

    "While there were more headed goals compared to the previous two seasons, there were also more goals from open play."

    Heading the ball is a technical skill, ad a valid way of scoring, defending and passing the ball, so why make it sound as if this shows a reduction in the technical level of the football played?

    The aim is to stick the ball in te back of your opponents net more often than they stick it in yours. Whether this is done with the head, with the foot after 327 passes, or by dribbling around the keeper and into the goal it still achieves the same result.

    Following a league where 2 teams thrash all the others almot all the time is boring, despite the football played by Barcelona and Rea Madrid being of a high standard. (The same can hardly be said of Rangers and Celtic in Scotland)

    The "technical standards" of the EPL can hardly be considered low give the number of English teams reaching the last 8 of the Champions League in the last decade, and the fact that England has provided 4 finalists in the latest seasons.

    It has been a frustrating season in many respects, for fans of many teams, but has been enthralling none the less.

  • Comment number 40.

    #34 John ....

    You are obviously a Liverpool fan who is fiding it hard to get rid of the sour taste in your mouth after your teams record of 18 league wins was beaten.

    Get over it already.

    As for the taste in your mouth, I suggest a good mouthwash.

  • Comment number 41.

    The Premier League here in African is still the best although my team Liverpool has not lived up to its billing. But signs are that great things are still ahead of the club.

    I want another rule to be introduced:

    1. If a team is winning at half time, it gets 2 points
    2. If it scores another goal in the second half, it gets another 2 points
    3. A team winning both halves gets 4 points instead of 3
    4. If the other loosing team (at half time) wins, by more goals, it gets 3 points and the other get 1 simply because it was winning at half time.
    5. Any draws in both half gets equal points (1-1).

    It sounds complicated but to me it will improve competition both halves and create ever lasting entertainment.

  • Comment number 42.

    this point may have already been made but in response to those who say the PL is boring because the same few always win have missed the point. If the league was won by random teams every year then, granted it may be exciting for say, everton fans or villa fans who suddenly find their team up there, but the excitement is in trying to knock the top teams off their perch! If every team was equal then think how boring the league would actually be

  • Comment number 43.

    Thanks to ESPN2, I got to watch an entire season of EPL over here in the States, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. The level of skill is amazing, and the atmosphere in the stadiums is electric -- well, at least from what I can tell on TV. I even was grooving on the singing!

    I find myself wishing for more decisions, but I'm not sure how that could be achieved. I'm no fan of shootouts.

    The officiating, while at times frustrating, is remarkably good. There were a few times when the ref seemed to have misplaced his whistle when there were fouls in the box, but that's to be expected.

    It was anticlimactic to watch Man U. and Rovers playing kick the can at the end of the penultimate game because both teams could reach their goals by playing to a 1 - 1 draw. I rather like the having the champion win its last game in any sport. Playoffs are not part of the English football tradition, I understand, but they are a really exciting way to end a season. I guess the last match against Chelsea served as the championship game, and that was a good game.

    It's a bit weird to see fans celebrating a loss at the end of the season (because their team avoided regulation), but that's part of what makes English football unique.

    I wish that there were more parity in the league. As an American, I love an underdog, and I find upsets a bit too few and far between. It's a pity that the there's no possibility of a salary cap in the league. It really improves the competition in the American sports that use it. Of course, the worldly nature of football makes that impossible.

    Anyway, I'll be watching next year. I'm hooked! You Englishmen really have something special here.

  • Comment number 44.

    Ahem, that's relegation. : )

  • Comment number 45.

    the lower teams have improved, but its clear, utd, chelsea, arsenal and pool are all worse, its reflected in the winning total, AND the quality of the football they play which i think we all admit isn't anything special.

    We dont have teams that play with the flair of barca except, blackpool of course but the league is still interesting.

    However the fact is, its been UTD who have dominated the PL bar the odd arsenal or chelsea year. But city certainly will be able to compete.

  • Comment number 46.

    I disagree immensely with any suggestion that this league is ''unpredictable'' and ''competitive.'' Quite apart from the cartel that the the top 4 or 5 clubs continue to enjoy at the Premier League summit, even the outcome of the battle against the drop was all too easy to call - Blackpool and Birmingham, with tough away games against top 5 sides, were always the most likely to go down yesterday. So even if during the game things looked they might turn out differently, at the end of the 90 minutes you would have to conclude that it was ''same old, same old'' in terms of the Prem's mundane predictability.

  • Comment number 47.

    Well i thought the EPL was exciting, but come on.. Why is my league (SPL) mentioned in the same breath?

    It's all about the money!!

    The difference betwwen finishing say 4th and 5th in the SPL is £80,000. In the EPL it is roughly £800,000 - £1mil.

    By being relagated in the EPL, clubs roughly recieve £40mil spread over 2 seasons, come on.. by winning the SPL you get £3-4mil.

    Oh plus, yes 2 teams will only ever win the SPL, but out of 12 teams, thats roughly 16% of the teams, like many comments have said only really 3 maybe 4 teams will win the EPL unless oilgarchs or sheiks become involved and my maths reckon thats 15-20% of teams, La Liga 10%

    Yes i am bitter and yes I am jealous,but please ENGLISH fans, stop comparing leagues as if they are the same!!!!!

    Follow me @Procter866

    Pierre Van Hooijdonk

  • Comment number 48.

    I don't think there is a trend you can recognise in the last several years. The quality this year may not have been as good as before but next year you may see this change around completely again.

    I will add these two things. This Premiership was a lot more competitive. Look at how many points separated Birmingham, with Fulham, who were 8th - just 8 points.

    I also think the battle at the top is a lot closer. where as Man U /Chelsea/Arse/L'pool used to be the top 4 incumbent - Man City and Spurs are now adding their weight.

    Next years title winners will be a very interesting one to see.

  • Comment number 49.

    JamTay1 is absolutely 100% correct. Not only is the premiership uncompetitve, it is delibarately set up to be uncompetitive, the big clubs like United, Liverpool and Arsenal campaigned vigorously to break away from the football league in the late 80's and early 90's in order to maximise TV revenue and strengthen their positions at the top, giving those below little chance of competing with them. Unfortunately, too many on here seem to be dazzled by the propaganda and hype into believing the never-ending mythology of the Premierships supposed excitement and brilliance.

    MilkyBar63 post no. 42

    I really can't believe people like you think like that. Are you really saying that the same teams competing at the top every year is more exciting than something more unpredictable? You say the excitement comes from trying to knock teams off their perch but how can the big clubs be knocked off their perch when all the teams below have little or no chance of competing with them?

  • Comment number 50.

    The phrase that most professionals use is "the league table does'nt lie" and once again this has been no where more evident than in the EPL. Its true that 4 (from now on maybe 5 or 6) clubs tend to dominate the top spots, but if you look back over time its not that much different over many years in the top division of English football.

    There have been periods when one club has dominated for 10 or more years, Arsenal in the 1930/40's, Liverpool in the 1970/80's and Manchester United in the 90's/00's, in between times other clubs like Chelsea, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Tottenham Hotspur and Man City, have all had the the odd successful season in winning the league title, or their moments of glory in FA cup runs. This is however totally different to most other European Countries, except perhaps Italy, where in the 60's/70's Clubs like Inter-Milan and AC Milan, Juventus, Roma, etc were joined by Torino, Lazio, Napoli in making Seria A a strong league.

    The top Division in English football has always had the footballing pedigree in producing exciting football, thats why Sky chose it!

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 52.

    In The BPL its such a tight league with so much compitition. Next year there will prorably be 6 teams in the race for the title:man u, man city,chelsea,arsenal,Liverpool and Spurs. There is so much tension making it the most entertaining and interestng league. La Liga is all honesty is so easy to predict. It will be either Real or Barca and even then then you can say thet Barcelona will win. Not interesting just monotonous.

  • Comment number 53.


    Teams and players evolve from one season to the next, superstars age and new talent develops, and due to the lack of investment often due to debt the EPL glory days of "best league in the world" aka 2007-2008 are long gone.

    These are the days when any decent European team would have an excellent chance against Chelsea Arsenal City Liverpool and even United, whilst at the same time be absolutely petrified against Spain's top 2.


  • Comment number 54.

    It's a lot of hype.

    There are plenty of boring games in the EPL, as there are in every other league in the world. Sky promote every major top 6 v top 6 clash, as if it's the second coming, and half the time in those games, it's boring, drab football being played - especially for the money that's been spent on transfer fees and wages.

    It's all about self-promotion, and marketing that make the EPL think they're the best league in the world. Nothing more.

  • Comment number 55.

    It really depends on who you support. As a West Ham fan, this was pretty far from my best ever season. And all this after that dire World Cup? Really, I am wondering why I bother.

  • Comment number 56.

    An interesting article regarding the success of the Premier League:

    http://www.itv.com/sport/football/news/epl-to-pay-record-tv-revenue-71522/

    You will see there that the future looks rosy for English clubs and, with equality in mind - regarding money distribution in other leagues - opportunities are given in this country for all clubs to perform.

  • Comment number 57.

    53.At 21:13 23rd May 2011, nibs wrote:

    Teams and players evolve from one season to the next, superstars age and new talent develops, and due to the lack of investment often due to debt the EPL glory days of "best league in the world" aka 2007-2008 are long gone.

    These are the days when any decent European team would have an excellent chance against Chelsea Arsenal City Liverpool and even United, whilst at the same time be absolutely petrified against Spain's top 2.

    ----------------------------------------------------

    Nibs, I think you must be very dense. No-one on this thread is disputing the quality of the Real Madrid or Barcelona teams, or even that they are the best two teams in the world.
    The point being made is the the EPL is the most competitive league, in that we're at the stage where a point a game is no longer a guarantee of safety, and where any team can beat any team on their day. This means that the league is more exciting to watch, as there is no real predictability about it. Sure, the better teams in the league end up at the top of the table by the end, but it's not by a very big margin, and every now and again we see a team go on a bad run and have a poor season (Liverpool a case in point).

    The spanish league, by comparison, is just two outstanding teams routinely smashing the lower teams week in, week out.

    I ask you Nibs, where's the entertainment in that?

    p.s. it will be interesting to see if you have the mental capacity to respond with something other that "but Messi and Ronaldo are the best!"

  • Comment number 58.

    What about the 13 point's 4th bottom took off the top 6?

  • Comment number 59.

    "You need to watch El Clasico more often to realize quite how far ahead Real and Barca are ahead of the rest."

    Bah this is getting so old... I wish people would stop attempting to out do each other with this argument, and besides every team can play in their own way, and their fans who stay true to them on the most part, enjoy it however it works.

    Yes those two sides are brilliant, but over the course of a whole EPL season and vice versa with our teams, you cannot easily predict this so just drop it, and enjoy the football.


    Personally think it was a pretty good season, the outcome was kinda predictable, but that doesn't really matter at all at the end of the day as long as the football is fun and enjoyable, which has been to a very high degree. Like I have said before, how fun would it be to see Real take on Blackpool, in Blackpool of course haha.

    And just to make my opinion regarding the quote, they can't be... the stats do not live up to it! For starters Arsenal did rather well against Barca, and if anyone is going to say "oh well they were lucky" well tough, teams from abroad have never been lucky, so stop being a scrooge! Long live EPL (and Championship, which has been just as good!)

  • Comment number 60.

    You better ask Chelsea and Arsenal supporters themselves, and maybe United's ones now or on Saturday night, how pleased they are with their current squads and performances throughout the season.
    --------------------
    The panic signings of any "superstar" by Madrid over recent years, from Beckham to Kaka to Robben would indicate they are the ones with the most dissatisfaction in its squad. Shame 200m+ couldn't win them a place in a CL final in the last 2 years.

    Also, you understand that the reason the final isn't an all-Spanish one is that they were drawn in the semi? And that if any of the 2 were in the current EPL they'd MOST LIKELY be a good 15 points clear?
    ----------------------
    A team that got thrashed 4-1 by Liverpool, went out to Lyon and hadn't made it to the semis of the elite European competition would've been 15 points clear of teams who have consistently been in semi-finals and finals of the same competition? You seem to confuse big spending with winning, so I'll make this simpler. In the "spend a lot of money on players" league Madrid have a lot of cups. In the "recently winning titles and performing in Europe", they are way below Chelsea, United and Barca.

  • Comment number 61.

    I've just done a bit of number crunching and if you take the difference between the points scored by the top five teams and the bottom five teams then this year comes out as the closest season (i.e the smallest gap between the top and bottom) since the 1997/98 season, and the 3rd closest season in the history of the Premiership!

  • Comment number 62.

    Teams and players evolve from one season to the next, superstars age and new talent develops, and due to the lack of investment often due to debt the EPL glory days of "best league in the world" aka 2007-2008 are long gone.
    -------------------------------
    Funny how you mention debt considering the hole your beloved Spanish teams are in. Wasn't too long ago the "mighty" Real Madrid were selling their training ground to fund their transfer market spending and Barca are Euro 440 in debt(and no this isn't the type of debt Man United have been forced to shoulder by the owners for their own purchases) and made a loss last year.

  • Comment number 63.

    I really can't believe people like you think like that. Are you really saying that the same teams competing at the top every year is more exciting than something more unpredictable? You say the excitement comes from trying to knock teams off their perch but how can the big clubs be knocked off their perch when all the teams below have little or no chance of competing with them?
    --------------------
    Competition isn't shortening the stick artificially. The PL is one of the fairest in terms of the TV deals and while clubs like United and Liverpool spend more than Wolves or Wigan, they do so on the back of their own success and not because of some unfair advantage offered to them by the FA. What makes this league exciting is that in any game the bottom teams can beat the top ones and very few matches have been predictable. Could you have written Newcastle coming back from 4-0 to draw, Birmingham getting relegated after winning the Carling Cup or Wolves ending United's unbeaten run? I doubt it.

  • Comment number 64.

    # 62,

    the debt of Barcelona and Real Madrid has added significance if you think that the Spanish giants earn from TV money approximately 19 times more money than the last team on the La Liga table. What does this say about equality in money distribution and allowing competitiveness in La Liga?

  • Comment number 65.


    19. At 18:26 23rd May 2011, hudjer wrote:

    "J Pearce coudn't have put it any better."


    I'll give you a clue why Jonathan Pearce said this. And also Jamie Redknapp Ray Wilkins Gary Megson Graham Sounness Alan Shearer, everyone really.

    It's a saying, and it goes "if you don't praise your house the roof will come down on you"

    The people who say these aren't neutrals. They are either attention-seekers playing to agendas they are given, or -usually- employees for the broadcasters. Who in turn have to balance books maximise profits or justify broadcasting the product at a particular price.

    The PL came from the doldrums (helped by the Italia 90 "heroics"), Sky threw money in, owners attracted some great players and hyped others up such as the golden generation, and as a result actually became the "best in the world" for one or 2 seasons (when players like Drogba Torres Terry Cech Essien Scholes Gerrard Carragher Vidic and many more were at their peak and also with Ronaldo Carvalho Alonso etc).

    Since then, the same media giants have been using this as FREE ADVERTISING.

    Ie we are controlling the medium, hence we are going to use it to advertise ourselves AT NO EXTRA COST (don't go far, it's the same practice regimes employ).

    History proves that there will always be a plethora if not a majority of idiots who'll actually believe it and purchase the product at our ridiculous prices.

    The players then as well as the managers such as Coyle Martinez Ferguson etc are not neutrals either, they will raise their own profile or price tag by repeating "best league in the world" every other week, at the same time excusing their potential failings by this.

    And in turn the dinosaurs of the FA can afford to charge extortionate amounts overseas.

    Remember that the "best" in football isn't something that can be measured except if it's really obvious. Some could even call it "subjective"! If a washing powder or a car claims to be the best with no substantial proof they can sue them.




  • Comment number 66.

    Well done to Man Utd for winning the Premier League but lets not allow the last 15 minutes of Sunday's matches to cover up the fact that this was argubly the poorest season in recent PL history. Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal all had (by their standards) a poor season and Man City, although progressing, should have walked away with the title when you consider the money they have spent. At the bottom its a shame about Blackpool but you have to get the defence right before you can be successful (trust me I'm Arsenal man!) and as for West Ham they were an embarrasment to their fantastic fans. Finally well done to Everton who finished much higher than they probably expected.

  • Comment number 67.

    @ 65, nibs,

    I think you're grossly unfair to Premiership clubs and Premiership quality.
    A league's quality is counted against the quality of other leagues in terms of success in European competitions.

    You can safely assume that the English sides in next season's Champions League will top their groups and will make some acceptable progress in the competition.

    If the Premier League was second rated, there wouldn't be 4 English sides in the Champions League season in, season out.

    It was recently that two English clubs contested the Champions League final, while Manchester United is in the final this weekend too, having appeared in other two finals in the last 4 years.

    You shouldn't allocate blame to the Premier League for Wenger's reluctance to improve Arsenal.

  • Comment number 68.

    Personally I think the fact that only 4 or 5 super rich teams can win the Premiership is sad. When I was growing up in the seventies and eighties Liverpool were dominant but teams like Leeds, Ipswich, Aston Villa, West Brom, Derby, Nottingham Forest and even Norwich could dream about being champions. A brilliant manager like Brian Clough or Bobby Robson could go to a club and make them into contenders.

    That could not happen now in England without the manager being supported by a mega rich benefactor. Even the days when a Jack Walker could invest in his hometown club have gone because you need billions not millions to win the Premiership.

    I agree with #30 that the Bundesliga is really the only truly competitive league in Europe.

  • Comment number 69.

    The most exciting league in the world - yes the best league in the world - no. The reason for the excitement is due to the atmosphere, the physical nature of the league, the referee letting more things go and due to horrible defensive errors and mistakes. The poor quality of teams is what makes the league more exciting and there are more mistakes made in the prem than in spain, technically and in terms of ability the spanish league is alot better, and they boast the two best teams in world football and currently the best country and people cannot deny that fact.

  • Comment number 70.

    Isn't it bad enough we have to put up with endless spin in 'real life'? Politicians, business 'experts' (huh!), manufacturers etc all bombard us with constant hyperbole and overkill to cover up for their inadequate product.

    It would be nice therefore, not to have to experience it in our entertainment. But sadly, it's not to be.

    This season has been one of the worst I have ever seen. From top to bottom the EPLs' glaring inadequacies are there for all to see - and hence the endless attempts to cover it all up with endless drivel about 'how great it is' how unpredictable it is' 'this is the best season ever'. The latter has been said so often in the last few years it's become a barometer of just how bad a season has been. I.e. the greater the hype, the worse it was.

    There are too many boring, dismal sides, too many teams that cannot defend for toffee, too many teams that once were great but are now well past their best.

    One thing you can take as read, the more Ferguson tries to play up his teams performance, the worse they were. Let's face reality here, if Utd ARE good (and they have been very good in the past) do you hear Fergie telling us so? No. Because good football speaks for itself..........

    Bald stats tell you nothing in football. Some of the stats in the 60's don't compare with the above, but very few would argue that that period threw up some of our best sides ever, that the league had genuine strength in depth, and that it's gone into decline since the 70's. Some stats that would put the above to shame are those in the late 20's and early 30's. During that period the goals flew in, but was the game as technical as today or the (allegedly) players as fit?

    As for 'great players' coming through', who are these stars of the future? The best players in the World (bar two) are getting old, and there is little sign they are being replaced.

    Not for the first time in history, the rotten tree is being propped up by vested interests, but this time it may be too late to chop it down. Will FIFA or UEFA step in to stop the current trends in football Worldwide With players being hoovered up from across the globe by a decreasingly few 'superclubs'?

    Not on your life.

    Anyone who thinks this was the best season ever needs their bumps felt, or as in too many of the pundits case, a quick trip to see Jeremy Kyle. ;)

  • Comment number 71.

    I can't believe all these people who say the Premier league is predicatable and uncompetitive because there same teams are at the top!! When has there EVER been a league where a different team wins every year? There has always been and always will be periods of time where certain teams dominate. Look at La Liga, the same two teams are at the top and they win by 20+ points, and the league is over by January. Would you like the Premier League to be like that? I think it's a case of some of you never being happy. The Bundesliga is the only league even close to matching our excitement, passion and quality. People are pointing to the fact United only won with 80 points to prove that the quality is deminishing. But United won with 79 points when they won the treble in 99, yet we all know how great that team was. Be grateful for what we have, a league that is close at the top and bottom. I completely disagree with gooner 8 (69), the Spanish league only boasts 2 great sides, the rest are very poor and know that they will never even finish in the top 2, not in the next 10 years.

  • Comment number 72.

    Well don't watch it then if you get so annoyed by it!

  • Comment number 73.

    I think the idea that teams can drop to a lower league is pretty cool.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    JR, I somehow do not think Blues, Blackpool or West Ham fans would quite agree with you there

  • Comment number 74.

    That was @ 70. I am starting to get into the Bundesliga, as I am moving there soon - sounds promising from what people have said, a comparison (a true one) between some of the top leagues would be interesting, from this year. But will sincerely miss the English matches I get to go to, good article overall!

  • Comment number 75.

    In the past 20 years, 5 teams have won the Spanish top flight (in order: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Deportivo, Valencia).

    In those 20 years, 5 teams have won the English top flight (in order: Leeds United, Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Arsenal, Chelsea).

    Out of those ten sides, two have also been relegated in that time (Leeds United, Deportivo).

    Spanish sides have won 6 Champions League titles in that period, with all of those wins coming from their two most successful sides (Real Madrid, Barcelona). English sides have won 3 Champions League titles in that period, with all of those wins coming from their two most successful sides (Manchester United, Liverpool).

    ...there really isn't much in it, especially when you consider that for the first decade of that 20 year period, English sides were re-adapting to playing in Europe again after the European ban on English sides following Heysel.

    During that period English clubs also won four other European competitions (UEFA Cup once [2001], Cup Winners' Cup three times [1991, 1994, 1998]).

    Spanish clubs however won six other European competitions in that time (UEFA Cup four times [2004, 2006, 2007, 2010], Cup Winners' Cup twice [1995, 1997]).

    So, over 20 years, Spain certainly has the edge in trophies. But what about just the last decade?

    Three Champions League wins for Spain; two for England. Four UEFA Cup/Europa League wins for Spain; zero for England.

    So, in terms of achievement, La Liga is quite clearly superior. But is La Liga more entertaining?

    A lot of English fans and journalists seem to assume that only in the Premier League do upsets occur; only in the Premier League is there an exciting (apparently) relegation battle.

    But that's not true. There are plenty of upsets in La Liga; Almeria beat several of Spains top sides last season and the season before last, before ultimately succumbing to losing the players that enabled those victories, and naturally enough were relegated this year. There are plenty of other examples (after all, the big three in Spain - Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico - all lose games over a season; none of them go unbeaten for a decade or anything like that, funnily enough, although you would be forgiven for thinking this was the case in any debate about the excitement of the Spanish league), too, but we'd be here for some time comparing them between the two leagues!

    But I don't really believe that any of the above is what makes a league exciting, or even what makes football exciting. What is exciting about football is ten men, pitting wits and physical ability against each other in a myriad of battles, spread across ninety minutes. Every man knows he'll only have possession, at best, for maybe a couple of those ninety minutes.

    The fight to make those two minutes the most influential two; the pitting of forwards against defenders and goalkeeper; the grace and grit and power and beauty of the transitional phase in midfield; those are the things which make the game beautiful.

    While Spain probably has an edge on the grace in midfield and attack, the Premier League definitely has the edge in grit, possibly in determination, and most definitely in fitness (largely due to Spanish clubs placing more emphasis on technique, and English clubs placing more emphasis on stamina and fitness). And the Premier League, increasingly, has very gifted passers of the ball and scorers.

    But what I think gives the Premier League - slightly - the edge is that one thing always seemingly overlooked: defensive play. The Premier League, in my opinion, right now, has the best defensive play in Europe. The defenses in England are why many forwards simply do not play at the level they attain elsewhere; they are often brilliantly organised, composed of strong, high-stamina men who are far more challenging than their counterparts in La Liga.

    The reason Messi scores sackfuls of goals in Spain is because, quite frankly, it's easy. Ditto Ronaldo.

    You don't see players doing that in England (anymore) because it's simply far too difficult.

    And that is what I feel gives the English game a very, very marginal edge - especially because that defensive grit is, in fact, found all the way through our professional league structure... which is why the FA Cup is still tremendously exciting: a League 2 team might defend fantastically for 90 minutes and sneak a goal in the 91st, and one of England's most successful teams are out on their arse.

  • Comment number 76.

    nit123esh

    So you believe this league is really exciting? On the basis of what, a few random results that like Wolves beating United? I think you will find that results like that are the exception rather than the rule and ultimately it doesn't alter one iota the bigger picture which is the table at the end of the season.

    You say the PL is fair in terms of its TV deal. The collective deal is in place because it suits the big clubs commercial interests, not because of some sense of fairness towards the smaller clubs.The PL can market itself as a complete package in a way that La Liga or other leagues can't which is why the big Clubs for now are sticking with the collective deal.

    Your point about United and Liverpool spending more on the back of success ignores the reality that this success has by and large been achieved on the back of the creation of the PL which not only filled their coffers with more TV revenue but also gave the big clubs more sponsorship and advertising, Uniteds deal with Vodafone being an example.The FA gave the big clubs their blessing in breaking away from the football league when they should have preserved the egalitarian and inclusive structure of the league which did confer an advantage to the big boys that wasn't previously there.

  • Comment number 77.

    @71. The difference now is that there is not the variety in terms of teams who could challenge. I can remember Bobby Robson coming to Ipswich and creating a team that could challenge for the title. He brought through young players and mixed them with a couple of Dutch maestros. Teams from outside of the big cities can no longer harbour such dreams and that for me is the sad indictment of the PL.

  • Comment number 78.

    The poor quality of teams is what makes the league more exciting and there are more mistakes made in the prem than in spain, technically and in terms of ability the spanish league is alot better, and they boast the two best teams in world football and currently the best country and people cannot deny that fact.

    ------------------------------------------------------

    Uhhhhhhhhhhh........ Lets get the bottom 10 in la liga versus the team in the corresponding position in the premier league EPL 9-1 La Liga (some random upsetfor la liga)

  • Comment number 79.


    71. At 22:13 23rd May 2011, nemail99 wrote:

    "the Spanish league only boasts 2 great sides, the rest are very poor"


    I'll paste the head-to-heads from another post, leaving aside Barca & Real who've been wiping the floor, this is how the PL teams have fared against these "very poor" Spanish teams recently:

    2010-11 Valencia 3rd in La Liga every bit as good as United 1st in PL home and away (at home Valencia dominated posession & chances)
    2009-10 Atletico 9th in La Liga knocked out Fulham 12th in PL
    2009-10 Atletico 9th in La Liga beat Liverpool 7th in the PL
    2009-10 Chelsea 1st in PL drew away to Atletico 9th in La Liga & thrashed them at home (although Atletico were in the doldrums that early)
    2008-09 Atletico 4th in La Liga were superior to Liverpool 2nd in the PL and were matched only by the classic 93rd minute Gerrard swandive.
    2008-09 Arsenal 4th in the PL knocked out Villareal 5th in La Liga (Arsenal were very lucky to draw the away leg and Fabregas should have been sent off)
    2008-09 Racing Santander 12th in La Liga beat City 10th in the PL
    2008-09 United 1st in the PL drew twice with Villareal 5th in La Liga (who also had a man harshly sent off)

    Also I recall Spurs being thrashed at home by Villareall this pre-season.

    To my reckoning there is not much in it -and I'm being kind.

    And remember the above results exclude Real & Barca but INCLUDE the PL's top 2.

    So to sum it up not that "poor" eh?


  • Comment number 80.

    Nemail99

    Saying that other leagues also tend to have the same teams at the top most seasons is hardly a convincing argument for claiming the premiership is exciting and unpredictable. A better comparison would be with English footballs past rather than foreign leagues at present.In the first two decades after the war the following teams won the league title -

    Liverpool
    Manchester United
    Portsmouth
    Arsenal
    Wolves
    Chelsea
    Burnley
    Spurs
    Everton
    Ipswich
    Manchester City

    Thats 11 teams in 20 years compared to 4 in 19 years in the PL since 1992, nearly 3 times as many. Isn't this proof of English footballs more open and competitve nature then compared with now? And that's before we get to the 70's and 80's and the success that teams like Derby,Forest and Villa enjoyed which, has post no. 77 points out, is not going to be replicated now unless these clubs were lucky enough to get a billionaire benefactor.

    Also, as a Cricket fan, in the same time span, i.e the last 20 years, 10 different counties have won the championship, more than half of those that compete. This is due to the fact that during this time each of the counties were more or less on an even keel financially, which ensured true competition and prevented an elite of big money clubs emerging that would dominate year in year out like as has happened in football.

  • Comment number 81.

    This is a bit of a no-brainer to be honest. The EPL is streets ahead of the rest.
    Its by far the most exciting league in the world. La Liga? Give Over!!

    The EPL is the best because it has the best players playing in it through out the 20 teams. Thats what makes it exciting and a joy to watch.

    La Liga - the best players play for Barca or Madrid.
    SPL - Rangers or Celtic.
    Seria A - Milan or Inter. Maybe Juve, Roma and Napoli have a couple of decent players.
    Budasliga - Bayern

    But the prem - the list is longer and the list of players endless.

    Man U, Chelsea, Ars, Liv, Villa, Spurs, Eveton, Newcastle, Sunderland, Man City, Fulham. It just goes on ans on. More or less every team has world class players in it from Rooney to Zamora. Tevez to Rodellga. Drogba to Bent. N'Zogbia to Modric. VDV to Arteta. Barton to Gyan. Ashley Young to Fabregas. Lampard to Silva.
    I could go on and on and on......

    The best players = best league.

  • Comment number 82.

    I dont know if anyone has figured this out yet (its very simple) and I couldn't quite bare to check all previous 80+ posts but one reason why teams outside the "big four" are not included is that they have the advantage of playing a team in the "big four" in an extra two games. I.E. Liverpool cant play themselves at home or away and therefore have gained 11 points from 6 games vs the others. In contrast to Everton who have gained 11 points from 8 games vs "big four" clubs. I didn't fact check Everton's results btw so apologies if thats incorrect.

  • Comment number 83.

    Having wandered away from English football somewhat over the last two years, largely due to my new found passion for the NFL, I returned this season largely due to frequent Sunday lunchtime pub trips as a fresher at University and the mighty return of my beloved Brighton and Hove Albion under Gus Poyet.

    In comparison to previous seasons, this year's 'EPL' has certainly been more entertaining. Yet I certainly wouldn't say that it was either unpredictable or exciting (except for Sunday, of course). One of the only reasons why this season was remotely enthralling was for one man; Ian Holloway. Yes, Wolves managed to defeat Man Utd and Chelsea (forgive me if I'm wrong), but it was Blackpool's open, attacking football, which the article rightly states, paired with their inability to defend which paved the way for the thrillers all Premier League fans drool over come MOTD time on a Saturday night. The relegation dogfight over the last few weeks has been somewhat exciting, but Blackpool's erratic scoring frenzies contribute to 90% of the excitement. West Ham were, in all honestly, down before their collapse in the penultimate game against Wigan, and Birmingham's slow, silent fall epitomised their dull style of football.

    At the top of the league, the 'fight' has been especially dull, with a Manchester Utd side, who I feel aren't as strong as some of Fergie's previous starting 11s, sauntering to the trophy whilst a lacklustre Chelsea and Arsenal self-imploded on a weekly basis. Other hopefuls suffered from recurrent problems; Man City and Tottenham were too inconsistent to be title threats, and Everton had a similarly slow start, frantic finish which left them placed in a familiar position. If we're really being truthful, if analysts and fans alike had envisioned a league table at the beginning of the season, it would not have looked too dissimilar to how it ended up.

    Whilst the Premier League has a certain degree of excitement, I feel it nowhere near compares to the Bundesliga, a league which in five seasons has seen four different Champions (Stuttgart in '06, Bayern in '07 and '09, Wolfsburg in '08 and Dortmund this year) and surpasses the Premier League in atmosphere and in my opinion, enthralling football. I remember in '08, Bundesliga new boys Hoffenheim were the unofficial Herbstmeister halfway through the season. This season alone, Dortmund were crowned champions, a team who had finished 5th and 6th in the previous two seasons, and Mainz 05 and Nuremberg (promoted to the league in 08-09) and Kaiserslautern (promoted last season) finished 5th, 6th and 7th respectively. Stale, dormant teams (aka the Wigans, Boltons, Blackburns and Sunderlands of the Premiership, no offense) are regularly either weeded out of the league, such as Frankfurt this year, or in the end improve, such as Hanover 96 who surprisingly finished 4th this year.

    Thus, whilst the Premier League has provided excitement in some respects this season, such as on Sunday, the top half of the table has provided few thrills and the same repetitive finishes we've come to expect, and all I can hope is that Liverpool continue their strong finish, Tottenham find a way to eradicate their stalemates with inferior opponents and Man City continue to spend their way into contention so that next year's race will be a little more competitive. Blackpool made the season remotely exciting, and I have high hopes for QPR, Norwich and Swansea/Reading to breathe fresh air into the league in a similar fashion.

  • Comment number 84.

    Oh an Aquakuh #75. You write very well and have made some very sensible observations backed up by facts, for example the relative trophy hauls for each countries clubs.
    However I wish you could have continued that into your last observation on the relative ease of scoring between the two leagues: For instance the number of goals this year has increased suggesting that defensive play has not improved relative to attacking.
    Also you say its simply just not easy for individual to score that many goals in EPL relative to la liga, well maybe that is true given Ronaldo scored 31 in the 2008/09 season here and this year got 40 for Real. I'm not entirely sure that is the case though, it may actually be a poor reflection of the EPL that the truely stand out talents that are head and shoulders above the rest don't play in the EPL at the moment, and hence the golden boot this year being Berbatov with 21.
    This may be masked by most of the big names in the EPL having relatively poor season eg. Rooney, Drogba, Torres, Lampard.

    Other reasons could be a greater sharing of goalscoring responsibility eg. Man UTD had 3 scorers with 10+ goals this year where only Rooney managed to last year.

  • Comment number 85.

    While Man Utd or Chelsea have won it the last six seasons, Arsenal and Liverpool have run close in the last three years, a few years before Newcastle and Leeds, now Man City, Spurs on the fringes. There are and have been teams on the cusp, but Ferguson has seen them off, while Wenger and Mourinho have stole the limelight for a while. Why do people think the quality of players makes the best league. It's the closeness between teams, not Real and Barca thrashing everyone that truly makes a great league.

  • Comment number 86.

    @nibs

    If you want to know definitively which is the best League in Europe, and which is the best team in Europe then check UEFA's own stats:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UEFA_coefficient

    You can eat your words now.

  • Comment number 87.

    MikeyBlathers

    You brought up who won the league in ther 10 years after the war. That is not the debate. It's which league is best NOW. I don't believe that records in Europe make any difference to which league is best, but if it did, the Premier League and La liga would be clearly the 2 best leagues. But given that in Spain it is only 2 teams that completely dominate both home and abroad counts them out of the running.
    In England the talent is much, much more spread out hence a lot more 'upset' results. In La liga last season there was 27 points seperating the top 2 from the rest, and this season it was 21, that is what's wrong with that league. Barce and Real have undoubted quality, probably 2 of the top 4 or 5 sides in the world, but rest are so far back. Why? Because of their lack of quality, from the start of the season they are just fighting for 3rd. In England at least 6 teams have genuine ambitions to win the title. The Budesliga is the only league apart from the Premier League who can really claim to be the best.

    A month ago Real Madrid, with a weakened side) beat 3rd placed Valencia 6-3 away from home and no-one batted an eyelid and then weeks ago beat 5th place Sevilla 6-2 away from home, and again no-one really noticed. If Chelsea beat Manchester City 6-3 away and then Tottenham 6-2 away it would have been big news.

    nibs, you are quite clearly showing you La Liga bias. I don't believe that records in Europe prove the best league. I can show stats to prove the Premier League is best if that's the case. In since 2005, in the Champions League, the best club competition in the world, Engalnd has had 12 semi finalists with 4 different teams compared to Spains 5 with 2 different teams. Surely the would prove England's the best league going by performance in Europe?

    Will McKay (57) put it perfectly.

  • Comment number 88.

    @11 is spot on.

    The 7th consecutive season with either Manchester United and Chelsea as Champions makes it too predictable.

    If it wasn't for Man Citys multi billionaire this would keep on for sometime. But now another possibility arises.

  • Comment number 89.

    #76 - "...Wolves beating United? I think you will find that results like that are the exception rather than the rule and ultimately it doesn't alter one iota the bigger picture which is the table at the end of the season."

    *ahem* Well, except for the fact that Wolves would have been relegated were it not for those three points I suppose...

  • Comment number 90.

    @ Verzino Although i do think the PL has stronger teams than any other league, the UEFA coefficient does not determine the strongest league in the world, only how well the best teams perform in Europe.

    And as for the most exciting league in the world, the Bundesliga is way ahead of the PL with different winners nearly every year.

  • Comment number 91.

    @ Mikkyk - I see what you are saying but I am pointing this directly at nibs who has produced 'stats' to show that the Spanish league is better than the Premier League using games between the two leagues in European Competition. nibs 'stats' are shown by UEFA to be wrong.

    The UEFA Coefficient also places Man United as the best Team in Europe over the last five seasons using the only way of measuring European clubs against each other which is how they perform in European Competitions. This of course in a time when people across the world have been lauding Barcelona as the best club side ever assembled. It would appear that isn't true. As for Real Madrid they have jumped six places this year and are still only seventh. Clear evidence that the top two in La Liga aren't the best two clubs in the world.

  • Comment number 92.

    #8 This is the problem with American sports playoffs are crap period!!! It negates having a good season and working hard to make sure you win every game. It is also the reason the MLS sucks and is not attracting real football fans (and by football I mean soccer).

    There is no need for a playoff you finish bottom three you go down period. Stop trying to pollute our game with nonsense.

  • Comment number 93.

    All this talk of La Liga being better etc, the EPL is a tough league so is Series A and the Eredivise. The issue with La Liga and the SPL is that the top two have all the money and are miles beyond the rest so there really is no competition. The EPL many teams have money and can therefore challenge for the title, that is why people think it is a more competitive league.

  • Comment number 94.

    36. At 19:30 23rd May 2011, bluenoseinsalisbury wrote:

    25.At 18:45 23rd May 2011, Luiz_and_McEachran_Guide_Us_to_The_Title wrote:
    You can argue what all this means for the English national team yet for the neutral the Premier League remains enthralling.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    To be honest, I no longer really care about the national team. There is one tournament every two years, compared to the four that Chelsea compete in (or rather three, Carling Cup doesn't count). And England don't look like winning anything in the near future either. I wish Lamps and Terry would hang up their international boots, they don't get the recognition they deserve and it only hinders their club performances. What really matters is that we just had the most exciting Premier League performance ever, and that matters more to me than England.
    .................................................................................................................

    #25 You should be ashamed of yourself, thank god we don't have to rely on people like you in the conflict across the world. As for Terry and Lampard, I agree they should hang up their boots for England but not for the reasons you quoted. Roll on the day Abramovich gets bored and decides to walk away with his wallet, you'll be experiencing a survival sunday like lots of true supporters (not glory hunters).

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    While I disagree with #25 about turning his back on England I am sick to death of people calling Chelsea fans Glory Hunters. I don't care who you support, it doesn't matter to me. But I'm not going to berate your team and your team's fans. True, there may be some Glory Hunters in the Chelsea fans ranks, but there are true supporters for the Blues like you are for your team. And as for you suggesting that you think both Terry and Lampard aren't good enough for the England team... Everyone can have their own opinion I guess, but are you serious? Lamps has been inspirational this season (when not injured), and John Terry lives and breathes England, and like #25 said, doesn't get the recognition he deserves at times.

    Oh and roll on the day when your club gets the money influx, which of course they won't accept and use, because that would make you as bad as the evil 'Chelski'...

  • Comment number 95.

    There's no way you can compare league's just because Villarreal beat Everton or Liverpool thrashed Real Madrid in the Champions League doesn't mean a thing. Teams from the Championship/League 1 have knocked out teams from the Premier League in the FA Cup does that mean Championship or League 1 are better than the Premiership?

    Any team can win a one off game (Wolves 2-1 Man United) but to win the Premier League or any other League you have to be CONSISTENT and also have a good squad of players. Barcelona, AC Milan, Dortmund, Man United, Lille, Porto, Ajax and Rangers all proved that and IMO these 8 teams should automatically qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League.

  • Comment number 96.

    I know there's other League's such as the Turkish, Norweigan, Greek, Russian, Ukrainian and many more but don't know much about them teams or League's.

  • Comment number 97.

    @ 16 (& 8): to be fair to JR, the USA is a huge country and a national league would be hugely expensive and tiring, because of all the travelling. Hence it makes sense to split their sports competitions into Eastern and Western competitions and then have inter-regional play offs. That doesn't justify the regional play-offs though, nor the abhorrance of a drawn game and forcing an artificial result.
    Btw, even though they were beaten by MU in a decisive game, with 2 still to play, there was still an outside chance of Chelsea stealing the title if they'd won the last 2 and MU lost theirs. What is more, the decisive 3rd/4th (automatic CL place vs qualifying phase) and 5th/6th (Europa League vs nothing) places were only decided in the last match, so hardly a boring finish at the top either, even if more attention was perhaps given to the incredibly tight relegation clashes.

  • Comment number 98.

    good to see a competitive league unlike spain where 1st and 2nd are assured every year..barca may be dominating but when you consider its probaly the least compoetitive two team league in football history it doesnt mean much, the only real question is why these two teams who are quareented cl every year are still nearly bankrupt?barca needing to take out loans just to pay wages....

  • Comment number 99.

    # 2, 9, 10, 24

    You are being silly billys; your claims are not comparative. The points totally accumulated by Everton and Newcastle and whoever else is over 8 games in comparison to 6 games by the top four.

    e.g.

    Chelsea V Liverpool – Home and Away
    Chelsea V Man U – Home and Away
    Chelsea V Arsenal – Home and Away

    Everton V Liverpool – Home and Away
    Everton V Man U – Home and Away
    Everton V Arsenal – Home and Away
    Everton V Chelsea – Home and Away

    That’s why they have not been included. Come on stop being silly billys.

  • Comment number 100.

    You will see many fans of small clubs coming here and telling us the Premier League is an average league. One word defines them: ungrateful.

 

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