Does Poor Showing In The Champions League Prove The Premier League Is In Decline?
Does Chelsea, Arsenal, Man Utd and Man City’s failure to progress past the quarter finals of the Champions League this season show that the EPL is in decline?
Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City represented the Barclay’s Premier League in the Champions League this season. Chelsea, the defending champions, went out at the group stage after a thoroughly disappointing campaign seeing them finish third in their group behind Juventus and Shaktar Donetsk. Manchester City, reigning kings of the Premiership, also crashed out in the group stages finishing bottom of their group having not won a single game in their six matches, while Arsenal and Manchester United found themselves losing in the knockout stages to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectfully. The question is however, were these performances due to a decline in the quality of the Premier League or just a minor blip from the English clubs?
Personally I feel that there is no decline, whilst this may be the first time since the 1995-6 season that no English club has made it through to the quarter-finals, to say that this is due to a Premier League decline is a bit too rash. On the one hand the performances of the other European clubs has undoubtedly improved with German side Borussia Dortmund being the standout club making a themselves a name among the European giants Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Starting with Manchester City and their European run, their shortcomings can be blamed on a lack of experience in the tournament, a number of defensive lapses and their inability to finish off games. A couple of new signings and a possible change of manager could see them become European giants. Manchester United’s tournament can be argued that it rested upon one refereeing decision (Nani’s red card) and a spot of bad luck, however with a squad brimming with young talent such as Rafael, De Gea, Jones, Cleverley and Welbeck they will be challenging for European glory for years to come.
Chelsea’s poor tournament can be blamed on this messy transition period after their arguably greatest success, what with the sacking of Robert Di Matteo and lack of an in form strike force. With a midfield possessing the quality of players such as Hazard, Mata and Oscar Chelsea have one of the most dangerous midfields in Europe! Cutting out of defensive mistakes and the gelling of Demba Ba into the team could see Chelsea rise to the top of European football again.
Finally, Arsenal’s European folly is partially due to fact that they are a fallen star, and the Champions League final of 2006 is now a distant and faded memory, they are no longer the guaranteed top four team that they once were. Having said this, if Arsenal decide to spend some money in the summer and make some quality signings you could easily see them become European behemoths again, depending on whether the top four spot can be clinched this campaign.
To conclude, I feel that this Champions League season coincided at a time of evolution for three of the four clubs while a refereeing decision knocked out the the other, and those quick to say that the Premier League is in decline should remember that it was only last year that Chelsea won the Champions League and of the last 5 finals, Manchester United have been in 3!
Whilst the majority of the footballing community will be praising the quality of other European teams it wouldn’t surprise me if the English clubs make a substantial return next year.
What do you think; is the Premier League in decline or will our boys be back challenging again next season? Get involved in the comments section below.
This article was submitted by Harrison Mead, check out his blog here and follow him on Twitter: @mead93
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