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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Standard of Premier League in question

In light of recent results in the Champions League questions are beginning to be raised as to whether the Premier League is vastly overrated and if English sides are drifting further and further away from Europe’s elite.

Arsenal’s 3-1 home defeat to Monaco was up there with the most embarrassing Arsenal performances ever in Europe in a game they were overwhelming favourites going into. Arsenal were outplayed by a Monaco side that is not exactly setting the world alight domestically and were missing some key players on the night. The 3-1 victory was much deserved and was it not for a moment of magic from Oxlade Chamberlain, Arsenal would have come away from the match with nothing.

Similarly only 24 hours earlier Manchester City lost out to Barcelona in the Etihad by 2 goals to 1 as they once again showed their inability to perform in the Champions League. City were second best for the whole night and after going down to ten men they were lucky to only concede two, an uncharacteristic miss from the spot by Lionel Messi and his failure to convert the rebound give City a glimmer of hope going into the second leg but with Liverpool being the only English side to ever win at the Nou Camp the odds are stacked against them.

Both sides had gone into their respective games with such high hopes, Arsenal appeared to get the ideal draw but capitulated on the night while City saw the Barca tie as a chance to redeem themselves and show they could be a force in Europe but they once again disappointed. League leaders Chelsea also disappointed in their tie a week prior getting a lucky 1-1 draw in Paris after being second best throughout.

Liverpool had already been a major disappointment in the group stages failing to qualify from the easiest group they could've asked for. The recent television deals see the Premier League generating record amounts of money but in terms of quality it doesn't seem to translate. Its fair to say that none of the top English teams at the moment are in the same bracket as Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich.

The likes of The Emirates and The Etihad are not stadiums that clubs across Europe fear visiting these days. Arsenal have become a soft touch when it comes to the knockout phases losing out in the round of 16 on the last four occasions. Man City who have only made it to the Round of 16 once losing out last year to the same opponents Barcelona just can't seem to get it right in Europe.

Chelsea continue to be the only real challengers for the Champions League amongst the Premier League sides but still have to adopt a defensive approach when it comes to playing the big guns as they are aware they can't go toe to toe with them on the attacking front. English sides failing to perform in Europe has been a growing trend in recent years and based on the performances we have witnessed in the last week the trend is set to continue.