With Arsenal‘s away-goals defeat to Bayern Munich coming in midweek it signaled the end of the English clubs’ participation in this season’s Champions League. But one man is still on course for a home final at Wembley in Man, David Beckham.
Who’d of thought that the 38 year old former England captain would be the nation’s last remaining representative in Europe’s top competition Nevertheless, part of a strong Paris Saint-Germain side, Beckham is now set to take on Barcelona in the last eight.
It does however highlight the real drop in quality for the Premier League in recent seasons. Having said that, perhaps some have been to quick to draw upon the Champions League failure as the evidence for the League’s drop in standards.
Manchester City were faced with the tough task of a group containing Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and Ajax; all Champions of their respective nations. So that was not so much a surprise. Next Manchester United, they were around 30 minutes from advancing into the next round, until an ambiguous refereeing decision gave Jose Mourinho‘s Real Madrid the upper hand. Then there’s Arsenal, undoubtedly in their worst season in Arsene Wenger‘s era at the club, yet they still pushed Bayern Munich into a frantic finish, with the good old away-goals rule ending all hope.
There has been a drop in the standards in the Premier League, especially defensively. It’s fair to say that for the majority of this season even leaders Manchester United have had a fairly dodgy back four. Another example though is Chelsea, the reigning European Champions failed to make it out of their Champions League group and have been one of the Premier League’s biggest underachievers this season.
But whilst Champions League glory this season is long gone, England’s flag is being waved in the Europa League by three sides battling their way towards the Amsterdam final. Tottenham stumbled through past Inter Milan, Chelsea just about made it past Steaua Bucharest and perhaps most surprisingly Newcastle, 15th in the Premier League knocked out Anzhi Makhachkala with more ease than their domestic rivals.
So yes, Premier League quality has dropped this season, but bear in mind who the English clubs have had to face, and that in the Europa League there is still hope. And if David Beckham’s shot at a second Champions League medal doesn’t lift your spirits even slightly then remember this stat.
In 2001-2002, no Italian clubs made it into the last eight, yet a season later AC Milan and Juventus lined up for an all Italian final.