English Premier League: Best Soccer on Planet
The English media tend to over egg the pudding when it comes to the Premier League; anyone that follows the EPL will know the oft repeated phrase ‘the best league in the World’. Sadly that phrase is indicative of the hyperbolic approach taken by Sky television and their ilk in the tabloid newspapers in an attempt to improve their own businesses.
There is much more convincing argument in support of the Spanish La Liga being hailed as the ‘best league in the World’. Indeed the re-establishment of Barcelona as the top European team over the last four or five years lends credence to the argument. Equally one need only look at the cast of actors plying their trade in Spain – Villa, Ronaldo, Kaka and Messi are just a few of the players at the pinnacle of World football. Then of course there is the Spanish National team, about whom fans and the media alike have almost run out of superlatives.
La Liga, in terms of technical ability and perhaps star power, is currently the greatest league in the World. However it cannot hold a candle to the EPL in terms of excitement and competitiveness.
The dominion of the 1990s by Arsenal and most obviously Manchester United is over, and there is a brave new EPL emerging. One in which a bright, attractive Fulham side for instance can more than hold their own against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. Their positive, end to end encounter on Sunday afternoon resulted in both teams claiming a point in a pulsating 2-2 draw.
In some strange way the fledgling English Premier League season seems to have taken it upon itself to prove to the World that football can be exciting again. It is as if English football has a karmic duty to repay the patience, faith and enjoyment that was ripped from so many English hearts in South Africa. It seemed as if a bond between supporters and football was on the verge of breaking following the shambles that was the World Cup.
One month down the line however, the dour and disappointing World Cup seems a distant memory to fans of the top tier of English football, this past weekend’s round of fixtures was the total antithesis to the summer games as there were three separate 6-0 results (including a second in successive games for Chelsea), one of which was an enormous shock. Last minute goals, goal line controversy, saved penalties and wonder goals have been the order of the day so far this season and we are not even out of August.
Newly promoted Newcastle’s astonishing demolition of Aston Villa is a perfect example of the ultra competitive and unpredictable nature of the Premier League. Villa are supposed to be serious top four contenders this season, and although they are currently manager-less they were fully expected to pick up a positive result at St. James’ Park. Instead they were battered into submission by a Newcastle side, naïve in defence but clinical and without abandon in attack.
Equally the big guns of Chelsea and Arsenal proved that a summer spent watching holding midfield players and resolute defending had not dulled their attacking edges one bit. The two London clubs have thus far this season displayed a creative, free flowing brand of football much better suited to the world stage than some of the fair in South Africa. Theo Walcott’s hat-trick and Chelsea’s display of ruthless aggression demonstrating that football can be fun and exciting again.
Even the less fashionable EPL sides such as Birmingham, Bolton and Wolverhampton have been scoring goals and playing exciting attacking football, and although there have only been two rounds of fixtures thus far, the Premier League from top to bottom has been a revelation.
As the nights draw in around England and the EPL table starts to take shape, football fans all over the country will hope that this brave new Premier League continues long in to 2011, if it does we could be in for a season for the ages.