Thoughts on Premier League Teams Performance in Europe
The 2021/22 Premier League campaign ended in rather dramatic fashion with Manchester City and Liverpool leaving it to the final day of the season to decide the fate of the league. The Cityzens retained the Premier League title with 93 points, while Liverpool suffered heartache, as their 92 points wasn’t good enough to finish the campaign triumphant. Chelsea had some poor form in the tail end of the campaign and still finished in third place, while Tottenham Hotspurs pipped past Arsenal at the business end of the season to nick the last Champions League spot. There was a little battle between Manchester United and West Ham United to determine who would get the newly formed Conference League slot, but the Hammers had the honors.
This essentially meant that England had sent seven teams to conquer Europe in three different competitions. The early parts of the campaign saw all the teams feature in Group Stage action but at this point, we are in the business end of the competition, and I intend to see how all seven teams have fared so far in their respective competitions.
I will start with the team in the Conference League, then check out the ones in Europa and of course, the big one, the Champions League.
West Ham United
David Moyes and his West Ham side have been in the trenches all season long with just five wins from a possible 23, languishing in the relegation zone. Arsenal is also interested in one of their prized assets, Declan Rice, and with the club’s form still diminishing, I will not be surprised if the English midfielder jumps ship at the end of the season.
West Ham’s form in the UEFA Conference League though, is in stark contrast to their form in the Premier League, and I’d guess it has to do with the quality of the opposition they have faced thus far. In August, they had to go through a qualification phase, smashing six goals past Danish outfit, Viborg, to qualify for the competition proper. They were paired in the same group with Anderlecht, Silkeborg and Steaua Bucharest, amassing 18 points from their six games in the group. I guess the players are loving life in the Conference League, while their struggles continue in the Premier League.
For winning their group, West Ham awaits the outcome of the Playoff encounters, which are currently ongoing, and the draws for the Conference League Round of 16 takes place in a couple of days. There are not much teams that can strike fear in the heart of West Ham fans at this point in the competition, but going from the Playoff results so far, the only teams worth mentioning are Fiorentina, Lazio, Villarreal and OGC Nice.
Best of luck to West Ham as they progress further in the competition.
The Gunners used to be consistent qualifiers for the UEFA Champions League with regular top four finishes in the Premier League, but shockingly, Arsenal has not featured in Europe’s elite competition for close to seven seasons, with consecutive outings in the Europa League as well as a campaign where there was no European competition at all.
Following a painful fifth placed finish last season, after losing out of Champions League qualification to their bitter rivals, Spurs, Arsenal began this season in the Europa League with a win against FC Zurich and followed it up with three consecutive wins over Bodo/Glimt and PSV Eindhoven. A shock loss against PSV occurred in the fifth Matchday, but a win over Zurich on the last Matchday was enough to win the Group.
As a result of winning their group, Arsenal has qualified for the Europa League Round of 16, and will await the outcome of the Playoff games that are still ongoing. There are still some tough sides to face in the competition, especially those third placed Champions League teams like Barcelona, Sevilla and Juventus that have come to bully those teams that started from the onset.
Manchester United lost their opening match of the Europa League to Real Sociedad, and it turned out to be a decision that haunted the team for the rest of the competition. Despite winning their next five games against Sheriff Tiraspol, Omonoia and Real Sociedad in their own turf, Manchester United finished the group in second place, and got a Playoff tie against Barcelona in the knockout phase.
The first leg at Nou Camp was a pulsating encounter with both sides playing excellent football, and the 2-2 draw was a fair reflection of the proceedings. With UEFA no longer favoring the away goals rule, a winner must be decided at Old Trafford this Thursday, making it a must watch clash.
Graham Potter’s reign at the helm of affairs in Chelsea has been very shaky, with the Blues a far cry from the dominant team they used to be in years past. Even in the games they managed to win this season, the Premier League club has had to rely on Kepa Arrizabalaga to make outstanding saves to keep them in the tie.
Chelsea’s Champions League campaign started with a narrow defeat against Dinamo Zagreb, which was the final straw for Thomas Tuchel, as he was relieved of his job shortly afterwards. Potter started his Champions League adventure with a draw against Red Bull Salzburg, but four wins on the trot against AC Milan, Zagreb and Salzburg, saw Chelsea finish the group in pole position, setting up for a two-legged encounter with Borussia Dortmund.
The first leg loss to Dortmund doesn’t inspire any confidence but Chelsea have it all to do in the second leg in front of their home fans. Everyone associated with the club will be hoping that the moneybags have what it takes to progress to the next round of the competition.
For every Tottenham fan, it was quite the roller coaster ride against Arsenal for the final coveted Champions League spot and they must have been very elated to get it. Antonio Conte’s team was in quite the group, alongside Eintracht Frankfurt, Olympique Marseille and Sporting Lisbon. Even on the final matchday, all teams could have qualified and gotten eliminated.
In the Tottenham scaled through with 11 points, and set themselves up for a visit to the great San Siro to play AC Milan. The first leg didn’t go as planned with the Premier League side losing with a solitary goal, but they will have another chance at redemption when Olivier Giroud and his teammates visit London to take on the Lily Whites.
Liverpool is another team that has shockingly struggled this season. For a team that finished with 92 points in the last campaign, what was expected from them was another title charge, but the sale of Sadio Mane proved pivotal as his replacement, Darwin Nunez, has been doing his best, but consistency has been an issue for the Uruguayan maverick.
Liverpool began their Champions League campaign with a 4-1 drubbing in the hands of Napoli. Jurgen Klopp’s men won the next five, which included a 1-7 annihilation of Rangers, but their head to head record with the Serie A hotshots, saw Liverpool lock horns with Real Madrid, the same side that defeated them in the Champions League final of the previous campaign.
What we witnessed last night was an utter disgrace, as the visitors ran riot against Liverpool at Anfield, scoring five goals. Liverpool needs to visit the Santiago Bernabeu and score three unanswered goals for the game to go into extra time. Hey, I’ve seen miracles, so I’d get my popcorn ready for that one.
Manchester City suffered a surprising defeat to Real Madrid last season, with young striker, Rodrygo, scoring two goals in the dying minutes to send the game to extra time. This season, Manchester City coasted to the knockout stages with consummate ease, dispatching the likes of Sevilla, FC Copenhagen and Dortmund.
Pep Guardiola’s side visit RB Leipzig tonight, reeling from dropping points against Nottingham Forest in the Premier League, just after winning the all-important clash against Arsenal a couple of days earlier.
In conclusion, the English teams in Europe still have a very good chance of qualifying to the next rounds of their respective competitions in Europe, but their opponents are certainly no pushovers.
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Posted on February 22, 2023, in Arsenal, Champions League, Europa League, Football and tagged Arsenal, Chelsea, Football, Liverpool, Man City, Manchester United, Premier League, Tottenham, West Ham. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.