The Premier League is widely discussed and debated over as being the best league in the world. It’s something that has become more and more prominent as a topic of conversation, but one thing that goes without saying is: The most exciting league in the world is back and back with a bang.
An absolutely unbelievable beginning to the season is the only way to describe it. It all began with ourselves kicking off the season in typical Arsenal fashion. Starting with so much promise, being pegged back on multiple occasions and finally delivering with an entertaining end with joy to take into the rest of the weekend. It sounds like an exact description of our previous season except that the weekend of joy was a summer of joy off the back of our FA Cup win. The game itself went to and fro in favour of ourselves and Leicester. Lacazette took only 94 seconds to get off the mark. We took only 4 minutes to look brittle at the back. The false dawn of an equaliser just before half time only to succumb to a routine set piece goal to peg us back once more. Thankfully we had the fire power off the bench to come on and make the difference in the shape of Ramsey and Giroud. Ah Giroud…What an absolutely brilliant man. The fanfare around the love-hate relationship that Arsenal fans seem to have with the big man, seemed to be lambasted as the media scorn stated “Arsenal fans love him again”. It’s never been that Giroud wasn’t good enough, it’s that Giroud alone has not been enough. He’s needed to be a part of a more competitive front line attack in order for people to really see his full value. The goal he scored against Leicester is not one that the likes of Lacazette, Alexis, Walcott and arguably even Welbeck could have scored. And that’s why he’s invaluable to us. I still remember the Man City team of 2012; Aguero, Dzeko, Tevez & Balotelli. It’s never easy to accommodate so many top talents within a squad, but it is exactly what is required in order to win a Premier League title. We now have that (so long as we can keep a hold of Alexis Sanchez) and therefore have a forward line that is up there with the best in the league. There were debut goals for Lacazette, Morata & Lukaku this weekend – we’re in for a tasty season so far as striking talent goes.
The craziness of our league carried on into the next day with Watford pegging Liverpool back with a late equaliser in a 3-3 draw at Vicarage Road. This was later followed by a huge upset in Burnley turning over Chelsea 3-2. The Premier League was well and truly back. The interesting point here that fuels the age old debate of the Premier League being the best league in the world, is that 3 supposed title contenders conceded 3 goals each on the opening day of the season. Against Leicester, Watford and Burnley no less. It gives credence to the argument that there are far more likely to be upsets within the Premier League. So I looked into some stats on the matter as if I’m honest my gut feeling was that there were more upsets in the Premier League than there might have been in La Liga for example. My argument has always been that the Premier League is more entertaining purely because the quality is a little lower, actually quite a fair bit lower, but that the quality is higher in Europe. The lower quality of defending and what appears as a lack of application of tactics makes for more end to end like games, however alongside this I’ve always felt that this is found out on the European stage. People frequently argue that the French league is a bit of a joke, yet their teams have made it further in the Champions League than English sides have over the last 10 years. On top of this the last 3 PFA players of the year within the Premier League have all come from the French league; Hazard, Mahrez & Kante.
After looking into the numbers I was surprised but also vindicated. Since the 2013-14 season the gap between 1st and 2nd in the Premier League have been 1pt, 8pts, 10pts and 7pts. In contrast La Liga has had a gap of 3pts, 2pts, 1pt and 3pts. This is a fair argument some might say, however “this is because the Spanish league is largely contested between the top 2 clubs and that’s it” might be the counter. So I looked at the numbers of points dropped by the top 3 teams last season vs teams outside the top 6. The Premier League top 3 dropped a total of 36 points (Chelsea 7, Man City 16, Sp*rs 13) vs the La Liga top 3 dropping a total of 39 points (Real Madrid 9, Barcelona 16, Atletico Madrid 14). These numbers alone show that the upset side of things even sides with the Spanish league, and that’s also including the top 3 rather than top 2 to try and make it more of an average result. If we were to take just the top 2 La Liga would still have dropped 25pts vs 23pts in the Premier League (numbers courtesy of @sweeperability). In every way you look at it the competitiveness of the leagues are in favour of La Liga and the only difference is that the technical quality of the European league is far superior to the English one. How is this measurable I hear you ask? The only real way to measure this is through triumphs on a European stage. I have a stat that can answer that particular question. The winners of the Champions League, Europa League, European Super Cup and Club World Cup since 2014 have all been from Spain bar one competition and that was the Europa League of last season. That is a staggering 14/15 competitions won by teams from La Liga. I in no way prefer the league, I absolutely love our bonkers league and wouldn’t swap it for anything. But I hasten to add, whilst our league to me is the most entertaining and great fun to watch, the quality in Europe is far better. And if we are to become a force in Europe again (insert Brexit joke here) there needs to be more focus, from the top sides at least, into the tactical side of the game. Whoever learns to manage chaos in the best manner will be the team that can have the opportunity to rule Europe.
What a start eh? Stoke away next so it won’t get any easier, but I really do hope we have some actual centre backs available for the fixture as it might help us to stop leaking goals.
Have a wonderful week folks.
Follow me on Twitter @MiteshLakhani1.