Premier League, still the best or are we being lied to? Part 1

By Walter Broeckx

Arsenal losing a 3-0 advantage against Anderlecht was painful. And if it was painful for you out there you should take a moment to consider how painful it must have been for Arsenal supporters in Belgium. That was a real kick in that part of the body where you don’t want to get kicked.

The word out there and also by some on Untold was: how is it possible that we let this slip away (I gave some of the reasons in my article stopping after 60 minutes). Yes it shouldn’t have happened. Not against any opponent.

And one further item that can be seen in many corners is: Dropping points against such small teams. How can a team from the mighty PL drop points against a team from a small league? Day in day out we are being told that the mighty PL is top of the world. The best league in the world. The most difficult league in the world.

It is what Mr. Scudamore is saying time and time again. Over and over. The PL is the best league in the world. It has the best players. The best managers.

And as usual when things are said all over and over again…people take it for granted. I must admit that I take it for granted. When I talk to non-Arsenal supporters about Arsenal I always tell that we are one of the top clubs in the best league in the world. So I have to admit I consider it to be the best league in the world. Why? Because I love it to be the best league in the world. Because lets be honest about it supporting one of the best teams in the world does shine down on me also. I gives you some kind of superiority feeling.

So who do you support? I support Berchem Sport. Who? Berchem Sport. WHO (together with a shake of the head saying you oh dear…..) But if you say: I support Arsenal. Then people look up and say: oh yeah Arsenal. From the PL. Top club mate.

So I have every reason to subscribe to the mantra : the PL is the best league in the world. But as a writer for Untold I am not supposed to just swallow all and everything I am being told in the media day in day out. So let us try and have a look at this “fact”. Is it really that the PL is the best league in the world?

When I started writing this article I thought I will have a look at this years CL. But by now I think even further. I will go back to the last years and see if we can come to conclusions about the PL being the best….or not. (I really don’t know for the moment to be honest). And then whatever the outcome may be we can see if we can find reasons why they are the top or why they are not. Will we celebrate the PL as the best at the end…Or will we be more humble in the future?

Let us have a look at this years CL for starters. All teams have played 4 matches. And at this stage there are a few teams that are sure they will go to the next round. But non of them are English. Real Madrid, Borrusia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, PSG, Barcelona, Porto are the ones. 2 Spanish teams, 2 German teams with a third German team being top of their group, 1 French and 1 Portuguese team. The PL is not certain of one team.

But there are two teams that are nearly there. Chelsea and Arsenal. But theoretically both teams could still lose out of further qualification.

For Arsenal the situation is that we need one more point to be sure of being in to the next round. Anderlecht could get level if they would win at home against Galatasaray and if they would win in Dortmund. If we then get one point against the same teams they would be level but then the result between us and Anderlecht would be decisive and that is favourable for us.

Now you could say that it is because of the manager, players, Gazidis, Kroenke that it is a disgrace that we haven’t qualified yet. I think an offside goal will have a bigger influence on this than all of them together. We should have beaten Anderlecht without offside goal anyhow. But saying that just comes from our superiority feeling against teams from other countries and smaller leagues. And might be misplaced at the end of this article(s).

And last year Anderlecht also had a draw against PSG. Something I didn’t realise until after the match to be honest as I don’t follow any other team apart from Arsenal. So they weren’t that bad it seems. And Borussia Dortmund won there 0-3 but it was for a long time only 0-1 after an early goal and Dortmund could finish the job only very late in the match.

But let us look at the other English teams now.

Chelsea who has the mighty Maribor in their group and played them twice and won comfortably one of those matches could only draw away to them. And so Chelsea has only 8 points after 4 matches. But still only getting 4 points against Maribor …isn’t that the same as Arsenal getting 4 points against Anderlecht? If Chelsea lose their next match at Schalke and Sporting wins against Maribor it will come down to the last match and they might even drop out of the CL places.

If we look at the situation of Liverpool we see that Liverpool after 4 matches in their group have only 3 points. I admit they have Real Madrid in their group and played them twice and lost. But the mighty PFC Ludogorets Razgrad (I had never heard of them before to be honest) has the same amount of points as the mighty Liverpool from the mighty  PL. And the ‘world beaters’ from Bazel have 6 points. With Real Madrid already secured of being top of their group they might consider fielding a more weakened team in the last two matches and that might be enough to ruin the chances of Liverpool.

And to go further Liverpool has to make sure they win their remaining matches. And their only win came when they got a last minute penalty at home to PFC Ludogorets Razgrad. So not really a comfortable situation and that from a team from the PL with two teams in their group from small leagues in Europe.

The situation of Manchester City is also worrying. You could say they have a difficult group. With one top team from Germany (like Arsenal) and Roma from the Italian league. CSKA Moscow is one of those teams you don’t like to play against as it gives you long and cold travels but surely a team from the PL (you know the best league in the world) should be able to beat them. They couldn’t as they lost this week to them at home.

But in a way City is lucky that they have Bayern in their group. Bayern destroyed all the other teams so far and because of that the rest of the 3 teams are very close to each other. But still isn’t it a big disgrace that one of the richest teams in the world only has 2 points and finds themselves bottom of the table after 4 games? Remember this is not only a team from the best league in the world but also one of the teams that have spend money without limits in the last years.

I know that still at the end all 4 PL teams might qualify. But the fact that they are struggling so far shows me that for the moment the PL is not really living up to what Mr. Scudamore and the media are telling us.

In the way they talk about the PL we should have all PL teams already home and dry waiting for the draw for the next round. None of them are. They all have to play for it in the next two match days. Anything can happen. And that is below standard for the best league in the world.

But this season might be a fluke. So in a next article I will go further and look at the seasons before.

10 Replies to “Premier League, still the best or are we being lied to? Part 1”

  1. Who is the best can only be determined after agreeing on the definition of “best”.

    Who will win the war? The country with the best army. However, in the old days, it was champion vs. champion (David vs. Goliath), so you could have a small army and still win the war if you had that ONE great champion.

    So which league is the best?

    The one that sends most teams to later stages of the CL – the one that won the CL the most times ? Is the CL even a proper term of refernce ? Maybe for very competitive leagues (PL), the teams that compete in the CL are so tired from their weekly endeavros, that they reach those mid-week matches totally tired, whereby teams from less competitive leagues, go into the CL matches feeling much more refreshed?

    Maybe the one that can contribute the best 11 players ? Or, maybe it’s the one that has the best 100 players, and not just 11 ?

    Perhaps the most competitive one ?

    My answer is “all of the above”, in some way. All things should be considered and put into the balance.

    Right now it seems that there is very little to distinguish between the PL, La Liga and the Bundesliga.

    However – I would say that the PL is the most competitive league, and has (probably) the best 11 players;

    La Liga has the best 11 and has bigger success in the CL; Lately with the emergence of Athletico, it became a bit more competitive; However, even measuring the extent of competition is open to interpretation – is it the distance between the top 4, or is it the notion that even 10th placed teams can pose a threat to 2nd placed teams (england)?

    Bundesliga is somewhere in between – has a super-mega-team (Bayern), and is relatively competitive. However, I am not sure whether it is truly interesting to follow – since Bayern are, judging by the past 50 years or so, so dominant.

  2. Thats right. the bigger team should always beat the smaller team. predictability is good for the game right ?

  3. I wouldn’t say the EPL is the best in the world but IMO it is the toughest.
    To support my claim, it is probably the most physical of leagues, plus the fact that it never closes during a north European winter.

  4. The idea of the PL being the best league in the world is nothing but silly jingoism that the American are better known for. The concept of ‘best’ at anything has always been very open debate even in very specialised fields like film-making. My cousin still haven’t forgiven the Academy for not giving James Cameron the best director Oscar for Avatar. I am not that crazy about Avatar but I have seen The Hurt Locker and in terms of film-making I am, like many others, still wondering about how the Academy reached the conclusion. Nobel prize winners are as controversial as can be especially among the experts in each of the qualifying fields.

    Back in the 90s, the PL was regarded as the most exciting league in the world and I gotta say that I agree with that; the PL is pretty exciting. Then Sky came in and started marketing the PL as the best league in the world for their own benefit. This is why I hate cliches: they have a bad habit of becoming common wisdom which many just latch unto without thinking. Sky and their pundits have repeated the claim so much that it has now been accepted by the average PL fan. Scudamore got the audacity to make his claim safe in the knowledge that no one will disagree with him, at least not in the British media.

    The PL has always been one of the top 4 leagues in the world (in my very humble but not irrefutable opinion). The PL could be described as the best in Europe between 2005 and 2011. English teams dominated the CL during this period producing 2 winners, 5 or 6 finalists (including both in 2008) and once fielding 3 teams in the semi-final.

    But this is football and it is very cyclical. In fact, the only thing constant about football is how cyclical teams (clubs and countries) fortunes are even for the regular winners. Brazil won 3 world cups in 4 attempts (over 12 years) and had to wait for 24 years to then win twice in 3 attempts over 8 years. Real Madrid won 3 CL titles between 1998 and 2002 but will have to wait for 12 years to win it again.

    I am always wary of claims of being best at anything because usually the claimant is either not thinking it through or just making shit up for self aggrandisement e.g. Sky. I have always been contented with being described as “one of the best” and that is what I think the PL is: one of the best in the world and nothing more.

  5. Rationally speaking, there may be a few ways one can determine who is the overall ¨best¨league worldwide.

    1) We need a top 4 competition where the best 4 teams from France,Spain,and Germany play in a round robin competition at the end of the season and the team finishing with the highest points represents their league winning the top award.

    2)Compare the results of CL and other competitions where teams from various leagues played against each other and using modern statistical algorithms, come up with a formula to determine who is the ¨best¨among them.

    3)Assess the results of the CL over the last 10 years or so and determine on a scale, which country won it the most times therefore revealing who has been the most consistent and best over this time.

    Clearly the parameters for determining the ¨best¨ league ( and leaving out other continents for the moment) is both jingoistic and irrelevant. the english have a rather unfortunate and xenophobic attitude towards other Europeans, reflected in their EU attitudes and in their imagined superiority regarding how they run their affairs both politically and economically. I have seen this delusion of grandeur all too often from expat Brits over here in Canada and while we ¨colonials¨do have redeeming qualities, we are often 2nd class in their arrogant self-assurance. Just because we didn’t invent Football doesn’t mean we can’t play it better than the inventors can…proven by Britain’s dearth of success in Europe and the WC.

  6. Best league in the world…..hmmm. We are also told we have the best refs in the world, by Mike Riley, the only time he has opened his mouth since becoming Scudamores puppet…..sorry, meant to say head of the pgmol.
    We have perhaps the most varied and exciting top division in the world, it perhaps should be the most competitive, but there are anti competitive forces at work should the favoured be challenged.but our top teams are certainly inferior to the top teams in Spain and Germany, though that lot have all kinds of competitive advantage, sometimes fair, sometimes, in the case of Real, not.
    Comparing Chelsea’s performance with ours in the CL, guaranteed to upset the aaa Walter, some of them cannot abide Chelsea or their manager being subject to anything other than unadultered praise, and deification.

  7. Superior home teams racing to 3-0 lead and ended the match with a point are common since the beginning of CL. Barca, Real, Milan, Inter, Juventus and Bayern had fair share of worse humiliations before. And I know for a fact that this extraordinary commotion of the 3-3 result was hyped up and taken advantage of by media and anti-Arsenals to jump into the carcass for a piece of dead meat. They always utter the same old phrases again and again, ‘Same old Arsenal again and again’. If fans have come to the extent where they are using Arsene and his players as human punching bags, then you have absolute no right to bask in their future glory days. Know your role and shut your mouth! Go Gunners! Hang in there, Nacho!

  8. The EPL is the only league I follow , even though my sports cable channels show the German , French , Spanish , American and the local league games live .
    Its the only one that I watch and the Arsenal games are the only one I can view without fidgeting. Why would I waste 90 minutes of my life to watch the other crap teams ?
    UA is the only site I read ,and it gives me great enjoyment .
    I don’t really read the newspapers , but get good informative e-mails from like minded friends .The funny and inspiring ones , I share it here with my UA ‘family’.
    For fun I swat those creeps who come here to bug us ! Oh what joy !

  9. There was an argument on a previous thread about subjectivity and objectivity so I’m putting this clip – which was passed on by a regular here .

    Murder’s immoral.
    – Immorality is subjective.
    – Yes, but subjectivity is objective.
    – Not in a rational scheme of perception.
    – Perception is irrational. It implies imminence.

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