Is the Premier League The Best In The World?

After a Champions League week in which both Arsenal and United cruised through, the media in UK goes overboard. There are rarely any shades of grey in press coverage here. You’re a hero or a zero and that’s pretty much it. At the moment you’d think Rooney had actually invented heading the ball, so extreme has the praise of his goals been. It’s not that he doesn’t deserve praise – but my god it goes over-the-top.

Thus, United were imperious and Arsenal majestic, despite the fact that both were playing against sluggish, over-the-hill teams. Teams which still needed beating, and which they beat well, but a little perspective would occasionally be welcome.

The trouble is The Premier League and its cheerleaders seek any opportunity to laud the league as the best in the world. They regularly go further and say ‘all the best players want to play here.’ You will regularly here and read comments to that effect from journalists and pundits.

It’s an appalling, self-serving statement and one which bears no scrutiny. As anyone who watched a magnificent game between Fiorentina and Bayern last night could tell you, there are some terrific players in Europe who either have played in the Premier League and left, such as Robben – and what a goal that was – and others such as Benzema, Messi et al at Barcelona who have actively rejected a move to England.

So it’s a fallacy that all the best players want to play here. Yet it’s become a mantra; an assumption almost. All of which would be so much media flim-flam except for the fact, that agents use it to drive up fees and wages. And we all know where this has left Portsmouth and what it has done to the debt levels carried by the league’s clubs. It’s financially unhealthy and potentially disastrous. It’s also true that those who do want to play here, often want to just because the money is so good. It’s nothing to do with the football or culture. Like Pascal Chimbonda once said, ‘I am a football mercenary.’

Is that something for the league to be proud of?

With this ‘best league’ tag come real financial consequences. And when you look at it more closely, it’s often the people with most to financially gain who utter this lie; players, agents and media representatives whose level of wages rely on the league’s high profile. Who wouldn’t pump up the very thing that makes you a good living?

It’s all the more galling for those of us – and I include many Americans in this – who enjoy dining at the smorgasbord of the European leagues and who know just how good some of the players are. Ok, when it comes to the Champions League, the English clubs have dominated recently, but that doesn’t mean all other sides in Europe are stuffed with poor players.

It’s ironic that on Champions League nights we have the chance to see such players as Ribery and Robben impress and perform at a really high level. However, once it’s out of the way and the league resumes, it’s as though a collective mind-wipe happens and we’re back to the default view that the EPL is where everyone wants to play.

It’s not true and it’s never been true and its time that the propagandists who peddle this untruth were challenged. Perhaps then we could start to tackle the insane wages and transfer fees and clubs could begin a long process of trying to live within their means.

40 thoughts on “Is the Premier League The Best In The World?”

  1. I think tonights Juventus v Fulham is probably a better game to gauge the strength of those 2 leagues. Most leagues have a few very strong sides, it is the strength of the middle to lower sides that will show the depth. Fulham are mid table EPL at best, Juve are one of the ‘big’ Italian sides.

  2. If Rooney farts, the English media will claim it is the best fart ever and how amazing his farts have taken on a tenor they never have previously.

    There are no “great” teams right now, except maybe Barcelona.

      1. Well said, Andrei.

        You might have made an argument for Chelsea earlier in the season, but they’re very banged up and looking old right now. Their best chance right now is probably the FA Cup. The Premiership and CL are probably over already, barring a minor miracle.

  3. Barcelona is a great team, and Chelsea is one of a handful of teams that can beat Barcelona in a big game but it is hard to qualify Chelsea a great team because of the lack of stability. It’s hard to even count the team that Guus led to outplay Barça because they are now coached so differently and hence play so differently. Perhaps if Ancelotti sticks around and they get the league title back plus win the champions league (or least lose it by being robbed).

  4. This is how I see it.

    Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester United are amongst the top ten teams in the world. That’s pretty good for one league.

    The 4 to 20 spots in the EPL are on par with the 4 to 20 spots in Spain, Italy, and Germany; the 3 to 10 spots in Portugal and France.

    Look at it this way. Man U, Chelsea, and Arsenal have a good chance to take out the top 3 respective teams in any of the other big leagues. However, I don’t think a Tottenham or Man City would necessarily be favored against 4th and 5th place teams like Juve, Hamburg, Sevilla, Lyon, Marseille, Werder Bremen, or Sporting Lisbon. It’s all relative to the level of competition. The German or French leagues may not have 3 powerhouses in them, but they definitely have eight or so Europa League quality teams. Personally I’d watch a Fiorentina, Wolfsburg, PSG, and Atletico Madrid any day before I watch Stoke.

    1. Fiorentina is a Champions League side that are having a downyear in their domestic league. Stoke have never represented the EPL in the Champions League and are having a fairly normal season for themselves as a mid-table side in the EPL. To compare the two is rediculous.

      The debate of the Europa league quality teams is a moot point, because any of those sides can beat each other on a given day. I could just as easily see Fulham

      Those who follow the EPL closely are well aware that not every player in the world wants to play in England, but we also know the EPL is host to the most competitive and entertaining leauge in the world. It’s without question when you realize that three of the four semi-finalists in the Champs league last year were EPL and the way that Arsenal and Man Utd dispatched of Porto and Milan.

      Take into account that these top sides drop points fairly routinely against the mid-table teams in the EPL, and you start to see that top to bottom the EPL is highly competitive. Just look at Everton, for example, and you see players like Heitinga, Donovan, Pienaar, Cahill, Saha, Howard, Baines. All of those players are regulars on their national teams, Baines being a new addition to fill in for Cole on England. That’s a lot of talent for a mid-table side. I’d rather watch Everton than Hamburg anyday.

    2. And what makes Arsenal and Chelsea top ten teams? English media hype? Arsenal and Chelsea had each one appearance in CL final in all times. Both teams lost. That pretty much it for their accomplishments outside of EPL. Technically speaking, Arsenal win on Tuesday was an upset as Porto had had better success in European competitions by winning CL and European Champions Cup.
      And here are the teams that have better success in CL since 92-93 then Arsenal and Chelsea:
      Milan, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona, Juventus, Liverpool, Bayern, Ajax, Porto, Borussia Dortmund, Marseilles, Valencia

      Number of teams that participated in CL since 92-93:
      Spain – 12, Germany – 10, France – 9, Italy – 8, England – 7, Netherlands – 6, …

  5. The way I see it, when I want to watch football, I want to watch a game, not a blowout. In La Liga, it generally seems like the top opposition is incredibly lopsided towards the lower teams in the league. The same goes for Seria A (well maybe not so much as this season). All of the big clubs really just trample over the lower table opposition, and to me, that isn’t interesting in the least.

    In the EPL, I think that matches are generally up in the air. I feel like every match is really a fight and teams don’t always look as if they take their feet off of the accelerators, even the big clubs.

  6. If you’re not sure whether its the best league in the world or not then go watch the other offerings…

    …you’ll soon be back :)

  7. Us English have a long history of inventing great sports (football, rugby, cricket, field hockey, ice hockey etc etc) that become internationally popular only to then watch those same foreigners beat the hell out of us. Please let us have our moment in the sun. The newspapers will be trashing us again soon enough…

    1. moment in the sun; you must mean when you crash into like when you crash out of the world cup; its funny how good you guys think you are, you have ONE true threat and thats rooney, you may in your group, you probably wont, then youll lose to my home country in the round of KOs

  8. I just dont understand why people from the continent have been in denial for the last 9-10 years. The Prem is the best league in the world. Which other league can host an enjoyable game between the bottom 2 sides. certainly not Italy or Spain. France has the flair but the quality is not that good. Ligue 1 is like a big academy for producing talent. Serie A is the pension league. I is slow and living off past reputation. La Liga is the pretender league. They think they are as good as the Prem. Bundesliga is well, the Bundesliga. Not much fun to watch unless you are German or Eastern European. Eredivisie has lost its reputation as “the” league that nurtures the best talent. The mantle has been passed to Ligue 1. The rest of the leagues are just there to provide professionals with a job. EPL is watched in the 4 corners of the world. And if there is life in outer space they too probably watch the EPL though probably not live because it would take light years for transmission to reach wherever it has to. The EPL is the best becuase the clubs get players from all continents while the other leagues in Europe fail to do this effectively.

    1. Last i checked many leagues are watched in the four corners of the world. Serie A actually makes more money in television distribution than the EPL. I’ll definitely give you that the EPL is the most diverse league player wise.

    2. bobby, you are the stereotypical iggnorant epl fan(not to bash epl Im a big fan) but if you think watching portsmouth vs hull is as good as watching low serie a or bundesliga your blind; your also stupid if you think the bundesliga sucks to watch, they score more than the epl and it IS WAY MORE COMPETITIVE THAN THE EPL EVER WAS. just look at wo wins each year, its always new teams up front, not the same 3-4 teams every year- no drama!

      1. Your having a laugh right?…right?…Freiberg v Hoffenheim is as good as Portsmouth v Hull? Not in this plane of existence its not.

        The Bundesliga is “way more competetive” is it? Since 1970 Bayern Munich have won the title 19 times out of a possible 39…thats ONCE every 2 years for 40 years on average! Is there comparable in the EPL? Well lets see…

        Manchester United have won the English league 18 times since 1892 and Liverpool strangley have the exact same record.

        Thats not 18 times in 40 years – but 18 times 117 years.

        The Bundesliga is so weak that, yes, when Bayern have one of their “off years” any off the other teams can win the league because, frankly, the rest are all so poor. Its like Scotland with Celtic but without Rangers.

        1. Why are you talking about MU wins since 1892? The discussion is about EPL and it was founded in 1992.

          In 17 seasons of EPL MU won 11 times, Arsenal – 3 times, Chelsea – 2 times and Blackburn – 1 time.

          In the last 17 Bundesliga season Bayern won 9 times, Borussia D – 3 times, Werder – 2 times, Stutgart – 1 time, Kaserslautern – 1 time and Wolfsburg – 1 time

  9. Games Man U has won in EPL by 3 goals or more this season- 10
    Games that Chelsea has won in EPL by 3 goals or more this season- 8

    Games Real Madrid has won in La Liga by 3 goals or more this season-8
    Games Barcelona has won in La Liga by 3 goals or more this season-8

    Get this garbage out about how top opposition in La Liga is lopsided against teams lower in the league and that big clubs trample over smaller clubs.

    And for the guy above, how many Tenerife-Xerez or Siena-Bologna matches have you watched to say how much better bottom table EPL games are?

  10. Is the Prem the best league in the world?

    Yes, it’s as simple as that really.

    Although if you need a little more convincing check out the semi final and the final of the champions league for the last 10 years and see which teams are there.

    1. I put some statistics earlier but here is more for you:

      CL 2000-2010:
      Spain: 4 wins (RM – 2, Barcelona – 2), 2 runner ups (Valencia – 2)
      England: 2 wins (MU – 1, Liverpool – 1), 4 runner ups (MU – 1, Liverpool – 1, Chelsea – 1, Arsenal – 1)
      Italy: 2 wins (Milan – 2), 2 runner ups (Milan – 1, Juventus – 1)

      CL semifinal appearances 2000-2010:
      England: 14 (MU – 4, Liverpool – 3, Chelsea – 5, Arsenal – 2)
      Spain: 13 (RM – 4, Barcelona – 5, Valencia – 2, Villareal – 1, Deportivo – 1)
      Italy: 6 (Milan – 4, Juventus – 1, Inter – 1)

      As you can see that Spain and England are very close with Spain winning CL more times.

        1. Yes that and also how could I forget Leeds :) They were in semis in 2001. That would improve England standing but the point remains the same: Spain and England are pretty much even.

    1. Here you go:

      CL 2004 – 2009
      England: 2 wins (MU – 1, Liverpool – 1) 4 runner ups (MU – 1, Liverpool – 1, Arsenal – 1, Chelsea – 1)
      Spain: 2 wins (Barcelona – 2)
      Italy: 1 wins (Milan), 1 runner up (Milan – 1)
      Portugal: 1 (Porto)
      France: 1 (Monaco)

      Yes, England looks better but to me this is more like hand picking your timeframe to prove the point. I think 10-15 year period is better reflection on league strength as it eliminates luck factor (Portugal would look like top 4 league) and accommodate for natural team progression cycles.

      1. In addition, CL is an indicator of how top 2-3 teams from each league compare. To see how second echelon of the league fared here is statistics from UEFA Cup 2004-2009
        Spain: 3 wins (Sevilla – 2, Valencia – 1) 1 runner up (Espanyol)
        England: 1 runner up (Middlesbrough)

        1. The trouble with the Europa League for EPL teams is that the EPL is too competitive. A large number of teams that have qualified for Europa have had to field sub-standard teams to ensure they are winning games in the EPL. A number of them were still in danger of relegation during the early stages of the Europa League! The EPL teams end up playing with 2nd sting teams against teams fielding their strongest teams as they are easily the top 1 or 2 clubs in their country (Shahktar, Basel, etc)

  11. While there is some truth in the article there is no getting away from the fact that the Epl is the best, judging by Cl domination and viewership which dwarfs that of other leagues including la liga. In Italy turnouts to matches is at an all time low while achievements in Europe are just as bad. In Spain there are only 2 teams (1 given Reals failures) that compete with the best – only half of what England offer. Perhaps money is a factor but with tax rates mire favourable in Spain that argument doesn’t really wash. Warmer climates, cultural ties and past legacies are what keep messi benzema et al in Iberia but they are few and far between. Style, passion and commitment is what sets the Epl apart. Testimonies from players who’ve graced both leagues, spain and England, give an insight to the heart of the issue. Robben while plying his trade at Real still claimed that the Epl was the best as did Robinho when starting his Man City career. Only the self-indulgent Ronaldo predicted la liga would be the best after confirmation of his transfer to Spain. Money and viewership can prove so much, all that is left is direct competition in Europes finest – so far it’s the Epl head and shoulders above!

  12. It’s without a doubt the most watch,commented,debated, and so on league in the world so I would consider it “the best”.

    Although there are a lot of factors that might be taken into account, the fact that English Teams are performing extremely well in CL and most of the time reach the Final speaks for itself.

  13. I would have to agree with that the EPL is the strongest league in the past 5 years. The other leagues may have had success in the past, but the English sides currently have more diverse units that produces better results in 1st team vs 1st team European matches (except for Liverpool, they are awful.)

  14. Yes and it isn’t even close

    Maybe Barca could beat all the PL teams but the Top 5 of the PL blows any other league out the door

    Real is far from that great this season

  15. ‘Maybe Barca could beat all the PL teams but the Top 5 of the PL blows any other league out the door’

    I think this statement sums it up. Certainly the top 4 of the EPL has a pretty good chance of winning the Champions league. There is not one other league in the world where you can say this – fact!!

    However, to say the EPL league is the best in the world depends on where your coming from. The Scandanavian countries favour the EPL, Southern America favour the la liga, Asia are generally divided between the two and all the other countries favour their own. Having lived in many countries I would have say that, on the whole, there isn’t much difference between the popularity of the EPL and la liga. I will say though that most of the interest in the la liga are in just two teams but you have 4 teams in the EPL that generate interest worldwide.

    Myself, I would go out of my way to watch Man Utd, Arsenal, Barcelona and Real Madrid – the rest I couldn’t care less about. Barcelona though are in a league of their own. When they are playing well there is not one team or even country in the world that could beat them – they are that good.

    The EPL will continue to be strong in the Champions league but Barcelona will continue to win it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *