English football has risen to be arguably the world’s premier league.
With the Premiership over, most eyes are on the Champions League. With the final in Moscow on 21 May, Manchester United will look to earn their second major title of the year as they battle Premiership rival Chelsea.
In spite of teams like AC Milan, Barcelona and FC Porto, the world will be treated to an all-English Champions League final. An English team has been in the final every year since 2005 when Liverpool won it. Since the 1955-56 season this is the first all-England final.
Many will sit and scratch their heads over that fact. With some of the other strong leagues in the world coming so close, some will wonder how the Premier League can continue producing good clubs. A lot of the league’s success in my mind has to do with its global appeal.
There are many great foreign players and they seem to be flocking to England more and more. It’s no secret the majority of Premiership players are not English. In fact, I’d say local players are in the minority.
Nonetheless, with so many top players spread out across the league it stands to reason that play would improve. This season’s final standings showed just how tight things got.
The difference between the top spot and the fourth spot was a mere 11 points. Going into the final game of the season, it was anyone’s guess who would win the championship. The top two teams, Manchester United and Chelsea, each had 84 points.
As expected there was no major change in the top four squads. Man. United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool easily rose to the top of the table.
The biggest shake-up happened with the top ten. Both Bolton and Tottenham were favourites to make an appearance in UEFA Cup action next year. Both fell hard in the standings, finishing 16th and 11th respectively. On the other hand, two teams emerged from the bottom in grand fashion. Aston Villa and Blackburn charged ahead this season and just missed out on UEFA Cup action.
For me, a host of players were crucial to their team’s success and cemented themselves as long-term stars. Some of the bigger names were Francesc ‘Cesc’ Fabregas for Arsenal, Cristiano Ronaldo of Man United and Fernando Torres of Liverpool.
Last summer, I made some predictions as to who would win and who would be relegated. In the end, I didn’t do too badly.
As I surmised, Man United was too good to be anything but on top. The play of Wes Brown, Ronaldo, and Carlos Tevez made all the difference.
I also figured Chelsea would come close (though not within two points) and fall just short. Credit for their solid play goes mostly to established heroes Petr Cech, Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard.
The big surprise for me was Arsenal coming in third. The rise in play of Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor put any doubts of the squad surviving without Henry to rest.
Falling into fourth was Liverpool. I really thought the combo of Fernando Torres, Peter Crouch and Steven Gerrard would be a strong force.
On the opposite end of things I was off on teams facing relegation at the end of play. Wigan played good enough to finish 14th and just six points behind Tottenham. Meanwhile Fulham just escaped the bottom rung in 17th place.
However I was right about Derby County. With just 11 points all season, they showed they had a spot in the Championship League. Joining them will be Birmingham City and flash-in-the-pan Reading.
At the end of the day, England has one of the best football leagues in the world. Anyone who doubts that should have a look at the Champions League.