Long live The Premier League!
The premise that The Premier League is the greatest league in the world has always been a hot topic for debate, but in the last few years since Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s final game in 2013 the entire landscape of our great league has changed drastically.
The age old adage that world class players can’t do it on a cold Wednesday night away at Stoke has been shattered this season with players like Bojan, Shaqiri and Afellay all performing to such a high standard at The Brittania. With wins over Manchester United, Manchester City and twice against champions Chelsea, Stoke are the epitome of the evolution of this league in the last few years as they have shown that no team is guaranteed a win anymore.
The 2015-16 season has been one of the strangest 6 months of football in recent memory. Chelsea sacked manager Jose Mourinho after the worst performance from defending champions in Premier League history, Manchester United players couldn’t score in a brothel and Aston Villa, with all their history and pride have become a has-been team, banished to the history books and annuals of the 20th century along with Leeds, Nottingham Forest and Blackburn. The biggest shock however has come from the rise of the smaller clubs, void of super-rich owners with cash to burn, Leicester, Watford and Crystal Palace have been relatively consistent for six months and are all now competing for European Cup places.
So what has happened this season to rock the equilibrium?
The Premier League is screaming to be won and the biggest clubs in the country seem to be doing everything they can to avoid winning it. The reason being is that big name, big money stars have failed to turn up this season. Wayne Rooney, David Silva and Eden Hazard could be the three best players in the world if they really wanted to be, but this league seems to do something to these world class stars that stops that from happening. The stand out performers of Jamie Vardy, Odion Ighalo and Riyad Mahrez who have scored 41 goals between them this season were all purchased for a combined total of £2.7 million. A fee which equals 8 weeks of Wayne Rooney’s wages, just shows the huge gap between the perceived top and the bottom. In previous years the smaller clubs are always expected to be defeated and occasionally they would play like they have nothing to lose and get a result, yet this season these small clubs are playing with that mentality every week. The big clubs have become unsettled and have seen what’s happened to the likes of Leeds and Aston Villa. They simply cannot afford to fall to that level and are playing conservative yet agitated football, something we have never seen in our league before.
What can we expect from the next few months?
You have to pity those fans who dedicate their Saturday afternoons to accumulators and fantasy football because anything can happen this season. Most people have faith that the equilibrium will be restored, Leicester will cease their winning ways and finish just inside the European Cup spaces, Chelsea will clamber their way back up to regain a place in Europe and that Manchester City will win the league if Kompany can keep himself fit.
But what if that doesn’t happen? What if Leicester maintain their current form and end up finishing 2nd? What if Crystal Palace keep scraping 1-0 wins and knock gormless Manchester United out of a Champions League position? What happens to Chelsea if they can’t gain momentum and finish in the bottom half? The whole landscape shifts again and the foundations of The Premier League will never be the same.
Unlike La Liga or The Bundesliga we will have no dominant teams, money will become more fluid, each team has the ability to push for Europe or fall into a relegation battle and we are making so much money that we have dropped the sponsorship rights to the name of the league…
The Premier League is becoming the NFL.
In a season of uncertainty, there are always a few things we can rely on though. Spurs will inevitably have a mid-season crash after a few months of excitement, Arsene Wenger won’t spend in January and Daniel Sturridge won’t ever be able to play successive 90 minute games. It’s a strange, uncertain time for The Premier League, only time will tell what will happen next.