After only four rounds of the Barclays Premier League season, I’m beginning to sense that there are signs of a disturbing similarity to Spain’s La Liga.
Yes, that league…you know the one that has only has two meaningful contests per season Barcelona versus Real Madrid, home and away.
Unfortunately, unless you happen to be a supporter of either Manchester clubs, the English campaign feels like we’re about to emulate our Spanish counterparts!
Some may argue that the BPL has already been the mirror image of Spain for years and to be fair, the record books would back that argument up. In the last ten years only three teams, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United have won the title in England while in Spain it’s been Barcelona, Real Madrid and Valencia.
Over that period there has been a difference between the two countries though and that has been competitiveness.
In England, the top contenders know that anything less than say 90% of maximum against the lesser lights of the division, would likely see an upset or at least a share of the spoils – nothing could be taken for granted.
Barcelona and Real Madrid, meanwhile, have often enjoyed the luxury of almost sleepwalking through matches against anybody save Valencia and Sevilla on a good year.
Recently in Spain there has been murmurs that enough maybe is enough. Now, whether that’s clubs talking from a competitive or financial point of view is up for debate. One suspects it’s probably the latter however sooner or later La Liga will have to wake up to the fact that Barca or Real winning the league every year, just isn’t good for business (Barcelona did drop points this weekend with one eye on the Uefa Champions League).
Somehow the Premier League has avoided that charge to date but I don’t see that lasting for much longer because the haves, namely United, City and to a lesser degree recently, Chelsea, have all but sewn up the league before it has barely begun.
United and City have both won four straight matches without truly breaking sweat if we’re being honest. Their aggregate score reads a staggering 33 goals for and just 6 against. And the scary thing is neither club has yet been at full strength.
To put that statistic into context, the eight remaining clubs in the top ten have scored 34 times between them and that includes unbeaten Chelsea!
Now, I don’t think we’re at the stage yet where third place in the Premier League will finish 31 points behind the Manchester rivals as Valencia did last season to Barcelona and Real.
Chelsea are too strong in terms of the remaining competition, but if the form book holds true and United brush aside the Blues at Old Trafford this Sunday, the race for the title will effectively become a two-horse affair before the end of September.
Of course the romantic side of me doesn’t want to believe that this scenario is possible but I’m already circling October 23rd this year and April 22nd, 2012, as the two decisive dates of the season.
Sergio Aguero and Wayne Rooney are already fighting it out to finish the season as top Premier League goalscorer. (Photos by Laurence Griffiths and Michael Steele/Getty Images)
The only hope at the moment for the competition is that Manchester gets embroiled in Europe and takes their collective eyes of the domestic prize but with depth in numbers that’s not going to happen especially when we have a classic England versus Argentina duel bubbling just underneath the surface.
Wayne Rooney against Sergio Aguero has all the potential to be the carbon copy of the Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo contest that drove both players and their respective clubs last season.
Between Messi and Ronaldo they scored 104 goals in all competitions, but that contest was one of the few interesting talking points in La Liga as their
clubs battered everything in sight.
Right now it’s fun and entertaining discussing United and City along with Rooney and Aguero but if that is all that is on the agenda come May, it’ll be time for some Spanish lessons.