Have a friendly chat with a MLS Snob and one of the many criticisms you’ll hear from them about the Premier League is that “Sure, the top teams are exciting to watch, but the bottom has teams that actually hurt your eyes to watch.”
While in the past this was true, especially in the days when Derby County and Sunderland stunk up the Premier League, I truly believe the bottom half of the table has improved considerably in recent years, and most especially this season. As an example, consider these matches that were shown just recently on television:
- Stoke City (11th place) 2-2 Wigan Athletic (14th place),
- Bolton (17th place) 3-3 Manchester City (7th place),
- Birmingham City (6th place) 2-1 Blackburn Rovers (12th place)
- Everton (15th place) 2-2 Tottenham (5th place)
If you missed them, you should consider yourself unfortunate because each of the above matches played during the last week were classics. Last night’s game between Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers was an extremely enjoyable match to watch as Birmingham City continued to show how they’re a force to be reckoned with with an exciting attacking style led by the explosive Jerome and Benitez partnership up front.
Blackburn Rovers last night weren’t too shabby either and gave Alex McLeish’s side several scares late in the match when they almost equalized. Champagne football? Hardly. But it’s definitely a much higher caliber that many Major League Soccer matches I’ve watched this season.
The same goes for Stoke City (the team that is often held up by MLS Snobs as being the worst culprit) against Wigan Athletic from this past Saturday. The game was one of the most enjoyable matches I’ve seen in several weeks and featured plenty of spectacles including Figueroa’s long-range goal, a penalty save by Sorensen and plenty more drama.
And the list goes on and on.
In fact, I would argue that most of the entertaining football this season has been outside of the Big Four. Aston Villa, of late, has been a joy to watch and they’re quickly regaining the form that made them so dangerous last season. In what seems to have been “the forgotten game”, the match between Aston Villa and Tottenham from a few weeks ago (the one that very few people have talked about), the game featured two of the most exciting teams so far this season playing head-to-head. And, for me, it was one of the most enjoyable games of the season I’ve watched.
You can go through the entire Premier League table this season and pick out really exciting games featuring all of the teams where the clubs have played a lot more open, free-flowing football that has been attractive to watch. This season more than any other of late has featured a ton of goals and we’re still only in December. Even Portsmouth, the club that is locked down at the foot of the table, have been wonderful to watch. The football they’re playing is more like a team that’s halfway up the table. The teamwork and attitude of the Pompey side under Paul Hart (and now Avram Grant) has been impressive.