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March 2018
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Premier League is now only second to Germany in lack of competitiveness

By Tony Attwood

It was rather sad in a way to hear Alan Greene on Radio 5 doing the Liverpool Tottenham match and being utterly restrained in what he said about the refereeing in the game.  Even if he thought all the decisions near the end of the match were completely right, in the good ol’ days he would have said something interesting about how long it took to reach the penalty decisions.

But he was clearly told some time back to lay off referees, as the PGMO clamped down on freedom of speech by broadcasters and newspapers.  And he buckled down and accepted the new rules.

Mind you it will be amusing to hear the normal little crowd on the Monday Night Club on Radio 5 tonight as they “discuss” the Liverpool game, since their prime argument last week was that VAR would ruin football because of the long delays that would be involved in referring the decision to the fourth umpire, or whatever he is now to be called.

I am not sure that VAR would have taken quite so long to see what really went on at the end of the game late yesterday afternoon.  And then get it wrong.

In a sense it was quite amusing, but also rather sad, to see the media now attempting to get excited by the fact that the lead at the top is now down to a mere 13 points with 12 games to go.

Arsenal have to make up a gap of probably six points in those 13 games, a feat which involves two of the teams above them dropping points as much as us gaining them if we want to get into the Champions League again.  But that of course won’t interest the AAA for whom fourth is not a trophy.  So I suppose they’ve stopped paying attention.

As things stand each of the three teams in 4th, 5th and 6th have only won two of their last five, so maybe there is a chance if we turn it around and the others don’t.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 26 22 3 1 74 19 +55 69
2 26 17 5 4 51 18 +33 56
3 26 14 9 3 59 31 +28 51
4 25 15 5 5 45 19 +26 50
5 26 14 7 5 51 24 +27 49
6 26 13 6 7 51 35 +16 45

But I wondered, as I listened to commentators over the weekend, whether those employed to give opinions really had their hearts in it as they tried to maintain the facade of the top division actually being a race, rather than a parade.

Of course if we were watching Italian football it would all be quite different, because there they do have a bit of competition…

Italy has a two team league

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 23 19 3 1 50 14 +36 60
2 23 19 2 2 59 15 +44 59
3 22 14 4 4 57 27 +30 46
4 23 12 9 2 38 18 +20 45
But that competition is starting to look really weird and out of place for a top division.  Everyone else has gone over to allowing one team in the league to have far more money than everyone else to ensure they win the league so we know the result before the season begins.  (It is a major way to save health service money by reducing stress).

In Spain for example I think we know who is going to win.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 22 18 4 0 60 11 +49 58
2 22 14 7 1 33 9 +24 49
3 22 12 4 6 42 26 +16 40
4 21 11 6 4 45 21 +24 39

In Germany likewise it was pretty much over before the season kicked off

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 21 17 2 2 51 16 +35 53
2 21 9 8 4 41 27 +14 35
3 21 10 5 6 33 29 +4 35
4 21 9 7 5 45 29 +16 34

Meanwhile in France you’ll know which team is top

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 24 20 2 2 75 17 +58 62
2 24 15 6 3 53 27 +26 51
3 24 15 5 4 56 26 +30 50
4 24 14 6 4 54 28 +26 48
5 24 11 4 9 24 24 +0 37

So now, as we used to say, lets take a look at the gap

Country First club Second club Gap
England  Manchester City Manchester Utd 13 pts
Germany Bayern München Bayer Leverkusen 18 pts
Spain Barcelona Atlético Madrid  9 pts
France PSG Olympique Marseille 12 pts
Italy Napoli Juventus 1 point

Yep, Germany as we knew, is the least competitive major league in Europe, but now England has rushed right up to the top and is second.  I wonder if that makes everyone very happy.

Mind you, it probably doesn’t impress the bookmakers whose odds on Manchester City winning the league next season are so tiny none of the leading bookmakers seem to want to tell me what they are.

Ah well.  That’s what happens when you know you can win them all.

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18 comments to Premier League is now only second to Germany in lack of competitiveness

  • Mandy Dodd

    Seems the powers that be are doing their best to kill the game in this country.
    Interesting in the media darling Derby yesterday, one team very fortunate with the refereeing decisions, and the media seems to have gone all out to support the officials on some very controversial decisions, at the expense of one of their most favoured teams.
    Guess the Spuds will have carte Blanche to do pretty much whatever they want against us , if they can get away with that against Liverpool

  • Ogban

    It won’t be like this next season, I promise you. I think City took everyone by surprise this season. Nobody expected what they did. By the time we realized it, they were out of sight. Next season the element of surprise would be gone

  • knobby

    If anyone gets the chance try to find Graham Beecrofts rant about the referees yesterday, it was on talksport at about 6.30 this morning.
    He said PGMOL and mike riley are not fit for purpose and if they don’t improve the FA should get rid of them.
    He said exactly what was wrote on here yesterday on a public radio station and deserves backing.

  • gbenga

    EPL officiating has become a real joke. No wonder none of them was picked for the summer World Cup in Russia. Imagine last night’s officiating happening at the World Cup?

  • OlegYсh

    What do you make of Kane not being offside because Lovren apparently made a deliberate attempt to play the ball? The law is somewhat vague in how it defines rebound/deflection/deliberate play/save.
    Also Moss apparently spoke to Atkinson (or some other Martin?) asking for what he’s seen on TV when deliberating on whether it was offside???

  • Chris

    Now that guy calls himself a journalist…. here’s what he has to say about that penalty in the Guardian :

    Van Dijk did not really kick Erik Lamela, the Spurs player just inserted himself between the defender and the ball. It was an accident but it cost two home points and a rare opportunity for Liverpool to feel good about their defending. Paul Wilson

    It was an accident……. I mean, hello, is there anybody home in between your ears ?!?!

    Now the use of the word ‘accident’ is just the equivalent of the ‘fake news’ concept. Guess ‘accident’ does count as a right decision, because an accident cannot be a wrong decision, so is all are considered accidents, then 99 % correct decisions is the reality.

    Maybe Arsenal can get some insurance policy against ‘accidents’ ?!?!

  • knobby

    Have you got PPI? ( pretend penalty insurance.)

  • Jimbo

    I see the tiny totts were up to their old tricks again yesterday,using simulation and dirty long ball tactics to secure a point against Pool.Why is the media so silent when it comes to spurs and Pochettino who happily turns a blind eye to his players cheating.We need a strong ref for the weekend,yet I can see more diving from the spuds similar to the two games last season..

  • markyb

    The Argie teaches them it, no blind eye about it

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    I think Arsenal will formulate an active anti-Spurs/PGMO-referring game plan that will negate any anti-Arsenal game referring seemingl orchestrated by the PGMO to favour Tottenham Hotspur in their home Premier League match against Arsenal on Saturday at Wembley. And the Gunners will play this game plan of: anti-Spurs/PGMO referring game, all at the same time for Arsenal and will have nothing to fear as to which side of the 2 teams all the 3 points at stake in the game will swing to. For, the newly shaped Gunners team will show no symptoms of fear in the game but will be confident and refuse to accept in totality any overtures by both Spurs and the PGMO match officiating officials to share the spoils as the gsme increasing gets tougher and also looking to get out of Spurs control when the sign of panic that started to appear on their faces is noticed as their defeat in the game looks to loom in. But Arsenal will not give in to any compromise whatsoever not to beat Spurs in the game on Saturday, but will beat Harry Kane’s Tottenham Hotspur largely depentent led attack team to the collection of all the 3 points that will be at stake in the match.

  • Gord

    I’ve no idea how the 1018/19 season will turn out, at least in terms of which team wins it. How the season turns out, will otherwise be the same.

    Two seasons ago, PGMO/EPL/The (sweet) FA demonstrated that they could make any team win the EPL. Last year, Chelsea negotiated for the title and got it. This year, Man$ity won the negotiation.

    What would be interesting, would be find where the consideration is.

  • Gord

    Congratulations to the U23, another 4 goal difference on Everton (4-0 home win). Eddie Nketiah with the hat trick!

  • ron

    seems to me the premier league is very competitive i mean arsenal and liverpool both lost to the team at the bottom of the league -man city are a bit of exception this year – but arsenal ,liverpool,spurs,man utd and chelsea all have quality players- the worse thing in my opinion is the attitude of the players diving the play acting calling its their ball when it clearly came off them last etc- in last nights match the watford players went down seemingly in agony at the merest touch –

  • Nitram


    I agree that apart from City the league is pretty competitive. City are pretty special.

    But as I’ve pointed out many times, having spent almost ONE BILLION POUNDS net over the last 10 years, so they should be.

    I think they will come back to the pack next season. As for this, lets be honest, it’s all but won already.

    But as for:

    “…the worst thing in my opinion is the attitude of the players, the diving, the play acting, calling its their ball when it clearly came off them last etc-”

    I’m not so sure.


    The problem here is that it is so subjective. One mans dive is another mans stonewaller.

    Take Kane the other day. Personally I think it was a dive. He was going down before contact was made.

    But all the commentators at the time, including ex referee Gallagher, had absolutely no doubt it was a penalty.

    So perhaps the bigger question to ask is, not did he dive, but is there one rule for one player/one team and one for another.

    We cant even begin to seriously tackle ‘diving’ until we have some agreement on what actually is a dive.

    But the sad truth is, we are MILES away from that.

    And what’s more I think that this ambiguity, or grey area as some would call it, will never be eliminated and not just because it is by it’s very nature a difficult one, but because they simply don’t want it eliminated.

    Think about it. The more subjective an incident is. The more open to interpretation. The easier it is to apply bias, and I believe that is exactly what they want.

    This is why they are fundamentally against VAR.

    And more, why they are so against being heard on open Mic’s having to explain the thought process behind there decisions.

    Can you imagine Dean trying to explain why he gave that penalty at WBA ?

    Can you imagine listening to Moss trying to explain how Kane wasn’t interfering with play despite being the player who received the ball inside the box?

    It would be hilarious.

    Sorry to ramble, but my point is, before tackling diving we have to somehow reach agreement on what is a dive and what isn’t, and the fact is we are miles away from doing that, and what’s more, they don’t even want it sorted.


    Sorry but that is just not important. That happens in any sports with any amount of subjectivity.

    Yes it’s gamesmanship and basically it’s designed to put pressure on the referee, but ultimately it’s there job to get it right and not to be influenced by it.

    It happens in Cricket all the time. Calling for an LBW or a Catch when it was clearly going down leg or didn’t carry, happens dozens of times in a match. Not walking when you get a nick is almost standard practice.

    It’s gamesmanship.

    But ultimately it’s up to the Umpire to get it right, as it is with referees.


    This is a tricky one.

    Putting it on a bit to ensure the ref didn’t miss the fact you were caught, is a different matter to rolling around in agony trying to get an opponent booked or sent off.

    Again this is simply ‘gamesmanship’ and by and large it’s up to the ref to do his job and see through the ‘fakers’ and deal with them appropriately.

    But I must admit that does leave a bad taste in the mouth.

    The bottom line is the referees should be good enough to deal with all these aspects of a multi Billion pound industry. They are professionals at the end of the day, who are paid a lot of money to get these things right.

    Sadly, contrary to what they tell us, our referees come up woefully short of the required standard.

    THAT is where the problem lies.

  • ron

    i believe there should be a shift towards players behaving with some element of honesty otherwise the game will go down the tube . i mean look at lamela whether you think it was a penalty or not he was not trying to play the ball he was hoping to get a penalty.

    calling its there ball is annoying when it clearly is not – cricket is slightly different lbw never happens it is always an opinion apart from the ball pitching outside leg stump -. in the case of carrying i would say in some cases even the catcher maybe not be sure – but in football in 95% of cases the player who last touches the ball knows

    This overall conduct it seems to me makes the referreeing of games extremely difficult apart from making the game look shabby

  • Nitram


    “This overall conduct it seems to me makes the refereeing of games extremely difficult apart from making the game look shabby”

    You might be right, but it’s the same the World over, and other countries referees seem to handle it much better than ours do.

    Why is that do you think?

    As I say, you may well have a point, but lets not use that as an excuse for the utterly appalling standard of our referees.

  • ron

    i do not follow other countries that closely so i do not know but i do remember years ago watching channel 4 italian coverage when referreeing decisions seemed to determine the outcome of quite a few matches –

  • Nitram


    As I say, you may have a point, and you may not like it, but gamesmanship is part and parcel, and it is unlikely to ever change.

    But the point is, as distasteful as you or I may find it, it is no excuse for the appalling standard of refereeing we see.

    And another point, if the abysmal refereeing was even handed that would at least be a start, but as we know to our cost, it is not.

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