Premier League best in the world? Don’t believe the hype

November 10, 2008

The British press are purring after Arsenal’s clash with Manchester United was decided by French winger Samir Nasri’s two strikes.

“Onlookers across the world were reminded that this sport, in its modern form, can cause excitement and awe in equal measure,” wrote the Guardian’s Kevin McCarra of Arsenal’s breathless 2-1 win over the champions.

After Arsenal’s bonkers 4-4 draw with neighbours Tottenham Hotspur two weeks ago, Hull City’s unbelievable start to top-flight life and the fact that Liverpool might just be genuine title contenders, the Premier League is once again ‘the best league in the world’ TM.

Or is it?

For the few upsets so far (Hull and Stoke City beating Arsenal), the chasm between the top four and the rest remains as vast as ever. Give United their game in hand and the gap between Champions League and UEFA Cup football may only be three points but can anyone really see Aston Villa, 2-1 losers at home to Middlesbrough on Sunday, breaking into the exclusive club?

While the melee below promises a cracking relegation battle, it also resembles the tightness of the Championship in recent seasons. You could comfortably divide the English divisions into five and not four.

And for every exhilarating Arsenal win over Manchester United, there’s a cagey 1-0 Liverpool victory at Chelsea or a dogged 2-1 Liverpool success over United. If every big four clash was as good as Saturday, then onlookers across the world would rightly be excited. The fact is they’re not.

Away from the top four and things get steadily worse. Last month Sunderland beat Newcastle United 2-1 in a North east derby. It may have been a windy day, but it was awful stuff.  Sky Sports summariser Jamie Redknapp told us that this was in fact what English football “was all about”.

Haste over timing. Tempo over quality. A colleague simply remarked: “Is this the 39th game we want?”

Is the Premier League so good that the wider world wants to host a wretched midtable battle?

And on a weekend where Barcelona scored their 34th Primera Liga goal in 10 games and Real Madrid came back from a goal down three times, missed a penalty and still won 4-3, is it the best league in the world?

PHOTO: The Beautiful Game? Arsenal’s Niklas Bendtner climbs above Manchester United’s Michael Carrick in an aerial challenge during their Premier League match at Emirates Stadium Nov. 8, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville


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I think Rory Delap’s long throws say it all….mind you, here in Italy Serie A is actually more exciting now because the quality is not what is was.

Posted by Mark M | Report as abusive

let me try and resolve this issue:
1. Biggest league (by cash): English
2. Biggest league (by attendence): German
3. Biggest league (by overall quality): Spanish
4. Biggest name players (overall): Italian
5. Biggest so far (over the years): Spanish
6. Best commentary (overall): English
7. Best noise (grounds): Brazilian
SO WHAT IS THE BEST THEN??? depends on who u are and where u are from!

Posted by ritesh | Report as abusive

i nearly forgot something
BEST by decline in quality: Italian Seria A (sadly)

but i think the spanish Premiera Liga is the best overall, just beating the English league.

Posted by ritesh | Report as abusive

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I think the Premier League and La Liga run a close battle for the best in the world tag.

As for the Premier League, I think this is one of the most entertaining seasons in a long time. People talk of the big four, but Liverpool’s consistent league failings have meant the title is only ever really contested among the top three of Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal.

This season however, Liverpool are showing more than just promise and are one of the best sides to watch, this time they may actually have a chance of glory.

As for Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd, are any of them as sturdy as they have been in recent seasons? I don’t think so and this together with the new boys in Hull, Stoke and West Brom all refusing to be the standard whipping boys I think the Premier League just for once might actually live up to its hype this season.

Posted by Neil | Report as abusive

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Posted by Soccer Camps » Blog Archive » Premier League best in the world? Don’t believe the hype | Report as abusive

Nice comment from Ritesh – I think the one thing that can safely be agreed on is that the Premier League is best at marketing itself as a package outside its own borders.

Posted by Gonzalo @ All In White | Report as abusive

The comments made so far are missing the main point and seem to have been made by armchair fans. I have been to important top flight games in Spain, Holland, Portugal and England and can confidently say that England surpasses them all in terms of atmosphere, excitement and quality. With regards to the same teams dominating every season this has been the norm throughout europe for over fifty years. In Italy you have Milan and Juventus, Spain Real Madrid and Barcelona, England Manchester United and Liverpool, and so on. All these teams have dominated their respective leagues for decades and this is unlikely to change.

Posted by Lewis | Report as abusive

Which is the best league? It’s a broad question. However, the most popular one can be easily chosen. The EPL. Why? They have an advantage that Seria A and La Liga will never have, English is their language. English will lure the numerous English speaking countries such as Australia and America. On top of that, it has hold of the entire Asian market since English is the ‘universal’ language and is therefore used a lot in those countries too. The cash will continue to roll in for the EPL.

Posted by Kay | Report as abusive

check out my new soccer website:

Soccer results, news and standings from Europe.
Including: The Champions League, Premier Leage,
Serie A, La Liga, Budensliga, French Ligue and more.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

So when Real Madrid and Barcelona win easily it is evidence of the quality of the Spanish league, but when the English Big 4 win easily, it is evidence of the weakness of the English league? Something not quite right there surely? Look at the tables at the moment, and you will see that the Spanish league is more unequal than the English league. Ten years ago, the Spanish league was far more equal than the English league, but not now it isn’t.

Ritesh, I don’t see how you can possibly think that the Italian league has the biggest name players. Even Italian journalists have noticed that this is no longer the case. Every list of best player nominees this year has been led by roughly equal cohorts from England and Spain, with the Italian league a LONG way behind.

Posted by Oliver Chettle | Report as abusive

Having the privelege to watch all five top leagues (and many more) on tv in Serbia, I would say the Premier League is the best, by a mile. After all isn’t the fact that three of last season’s four CL semi-finalists came from the Premier League irrefutable evidence and the real barometer of quality?
The gulf between the top four and the rest of the Premier League speaks for the ever-rising quality of the top four and not the league’s decline. The Premier League has tempo AND quality, which is why it’s the best in the world. Followed by the Spanish Primera, the Bundesliga and the Italian Serie A, in that order.

Posted by Red Devil | Report as abusive

Here it is, the EPL and La Liga run close but the EPL edges it out for the win! If u want to disagree then ask yourself who won the Champions League and who was runner up? Who were the semifinalists? All 4 top teams of the EPL made it to the quarterfinals and if it wasnt for the luck of the draw and Arsenal didnt have to face Liverpool in the quarters and Liverpool face Chelsea in the semis, then for the first time in history it would have been all English teams in the semis of the Champions league.
And altough Barcelona is playing some of their BEST football in recent years, the newly promoted teams in La Liga cant compete the way a team like Hull City can. Who is Hull? How much is their payroll and how well do they play? They beat Arsenal and put 3 in Man Utd to lose 4-3! Where even teams like Barca have to work to get 1 against Man Utd, Hull got 3!!!

Posted by BdaGunner | Report as abusive

The best league?

The Champions League…

Posted by Hans Moman | Report as abusive

alert(“English league is best”);

Posted by asd | Report as abusive