Chelsea play Galatasaray and find themselves in a very familiar position of holding the hopes of Premier League success in Europe. For a few years now it has become the duty of Chelsea to represent the Premier League as the only team competing for European honors. This did not change this season either.
Premier League Teams in Europe
Manchester City 0-2 Barcelona
Olympiacos 2-0 Manchester United
Arsenal 0-2 Bayern Munich
Dnipro 1-0 Tottenham
Swansea City 0-0 Napoli
In five fixtures, Premier League teams have tied in just 1 and lost the other 4. Absolutely embarrassing. People are justifying City and Arsenal’s lackluster performances as a result of the difficulty of their competition but the truth remains that both were playing at home and should have performed better.
Major Cause For Concern
Believe it or not, Manchester United were our best ally in sustaining the Premier League’s claim to top 3 world league status. Man Utd and Chelsea have done a great job of maintaining their places in the top 5 ranked teams in the world over the last 8 years or so. In addition to Man Utd potentially crashing out to Olympiacos, they are also in danger of missing out on the Champions League next season as well. Most of us rejoice at that prospect but it might end up resulting in a major decline in the Premier League’s power.
Right now Liverpool sit in 4th. Liverpool have not played a lot of European football in the past few years and they have been unsuccessful when they did. Liverpool are out of the top 25 ranked teams in the world. Assuming they qualify for the last spot next season, they could potentially end up with a group that includes Barcelona, Dortmund and PSG. Bottom line, Liverpool are going to have a rough time earning the Premier League points if they do qualify for the Champions League.
Manchester City has been dealing with rough draws since they became a regular in the Champions League and have found it difficult to break through. Even this season they managed to qualify for the knockout stage only to end up facing Barcelona. Man Utd stand to lose around 33 coefficient points next season if they do not qualify for any European competition. That loss drops them down to the 2nd grouping in European football, leaving Chelsea and Arsenal as the only Premier League teams ranked as the top seeds in their group.
Will Other Leagues Pass the Premier League?
The rise of Atletico has put La Liga on another level. It does not matter that Spain does not have a solid 4th team – they have 3 solid teams that can compete. It will probably be a really long time before any league catches Spain but England remain vulnerable to the threat of Germany. The rise of Dortmund (and decent success by Schalke) has seen German football start nipping at the heels of the Premier League. In fact, the Bundesliga is only 2 points behind the Premier League for the #2 spot in the coefficient rankings. If either Bayern or BVB win the final then the Bundesliga become the #2 league in UEFA.
There is no difference between 2nd and 3rd but there is an enormous difference between 3rd and 4th. Ranking #4 in UEFA costs that league a Champions League spot, meaning that (assuming Premier League teams continue struggling) the Premier League could end up with just 3 spots in the Champions League. There is no need to fear at the moment since Serie A is experiencing major issues and there is a significant point gap between them and the Prem. Germany and Spain can start putting space between themselves and the Premiership forcing the FA to face the loss of millions of pounds in lost revenue.
Chelsea to Save the Day
Others may have laughed when Chelsea were eliminated from the Champions League last season but the FA must be grateful that they did not overlook the Europa League and won the tournament. Chelsea actually finished as the #3 team in Europe last season behind the two Champions League finalists. Despite winning the Champions League in 2011/12, Chelsea finished in a tie as the #4 team in Europe that season. It comes as no surprise that Chelsea are ranked as the top Premier League team in Europe given their recent success.
The problem is that a single team cannot carry an entire league by itself. During the era of Premier League dominance they were joined by consistent Arsenal, Man Utd and Liverpool teams. Arsenal has only 1 result past the round of 16 in the 5 year coefficient and Liverpool have dropped off the map. Assuming Chelsea make it past the quarterfinals in the next three seasons (including this season), they will have a very good shot at being ranked as the top team in all of Europe.
The FA’s Fate is in Chelsea’s Hands
Bottom line, the Premier League is in a bit of trouble. We can all laugh at the struggles of Arsenal, Man Utd and Tottenham but it is starting to become a major concern for the league. Man Utd is especially concerning given their tenuous ranking as a top 5 European team in the middle of a major decline. Arsenal are not getting any better anytime soon and Man City are a wild card when it comes to Europe; that means that Mourinho’s Chelsea will have to be the ones to save the Premier League.
Oh how that must agitate the many that hate him and us so much.