What a week it’s been for English Premier League clubs in Europe and for the first time ever both major European finals will be contested by four teams from the same country. I’ve never said it until now because I’ve never really believed it until now, but English Football is officially the best in the world.
Back to back wins from the brink of elimination ensured both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur will contest the European Champions League final in Madrid whilst Arsenal saw off the job in a cracker at Valencia on Thursday night and Chelsea edged past plucky Eintracht Frankfurt to set up an all London Europa League Final in Baku. All this and the best team arguably in the country right now Manchester City were feet up watching all the games ahead of the weekend when three points at Brighton on Sunday will clinch them the title.
High praise for Liverpool who destroyed Barcelona at Anfield and in my opinion were the better team over two legs despite the efforts of the greatest footballer in the world Lionel Messi.. For Tottenham I side with lady luck over dominance as they first edged past Manchester City in the Quarter Finals thanks to VAR then found the goals from somewhere (in Lucas Moura) to remarkably snatch semi-final victory away from Ajax who might have won the tie a couple of times over had their finishing been more clinical.
In the Europa League Chelsea have gone about their business all season in solid but reliable fashion, they were the better team in Frankfurt but could argue their visitors were the better team last night? Kepa Arrizabalaga perhaps owing his Coach one during the penalty shoot out after his antics in the League Cup final… The better team over two legs perhaps going through with the last kick at Stamford Bridge by Eden Hazard (maybe) being the all crucial winning goal. As for Arsenal, well I’m never convinced about there defence but in the front two Lacazette and Aubamayeng they perhaps have the best striker force pairing in English football right now? Arsenal’s get out of jail card was very much their fire power in the semi finals and just when Valencia looked to claw it back their forwards came up with the business… Frighteningly good when at their best.
To think that the Media circles this season has criticised Klopp and Pochettino for not yet winning anything? To think fans have criticised the likes of Sarri and Emery in their debut seasons for the way they play and who they pick? And to think the highest rated Coach of them all in Guardiola is still awaiting his first European success with City? Winning silverware might not guarantee any of the above staying in their posts next season, but when they are all judged on how they have faired this year come what May (or June 1st to be precise) I don’t think any of the above can be scored less than a 7 or 8 out of 10 and that for me doesn’t warrant any negative action to be taken against them. After all there can only be one Premier League winner, and six top class clubs (including Manchester United) fighting to be the best means that there will be disappointment, even despite five of those teams in particular having great campaigns in their attempt to chase major trophies.
For me both finals will be tight, both could go to extra time? Both could go to penalties? Liverpool in actual fact might have fared better against Ajax? Tottenham have done well against them in the past and will no doubt rely on a back five to look after the kopites fabulous front three. Arsenal and Chelsea could also go to the wire. Sarri will set up his blues side hard to beat, but if the game opens up it could be in favour of Arsenal who look to have the firepower? It could even be a better game than the Champions League final? Either way the English Invasion on Europe’s biggest two games in club football will be a positive advertisement of the Premier League at its best. Not that it needs much advertising of course?