The Premier League season can be grueling and unforgiving. With 38 highly competitive fixtures, no mid-season break and two domestic competitions to contend with – admittedly some teams don’t have to contend with them for long – many clubs find their squad being stretched to the limit.
You would think that the larger clubs would be able to afford to assemble squads capable of competing on all of these fronts; but what about when you throw European competition into mix. Four of the current top six in the Premier League are still competing in Europe, be it the Champions League or Europa League; and for these clubs this could have a detrimental effect on their chances of lifting the Premier League title in May.
There are two clubs in the top six who aren’t involved in European competition and current leaders and the boomakers favourites Chelsea are one of them. The fact that they haven’t been playing regular midweek fixtures up until this point has meant that manager Antonio Conte has been able to name a largely settled side for most league games. This has been a huge part of their success to date. The other club who aren’t playing in European competition are Liverpool who currently sit 2nd in the table.
It may be a stretch to say that all of the top six clubs are in with a shout of winning the Premier League, however Manchester United who currently sit 6th are in fantastic form and are showing no signs of letting up. They also have the added benefit of being in the Europa League as opposed to the Champions League.
Being in the lesser of the two European competitions may give Jose Mourinho the opportunity to rest some key players for the league. Whereas Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola at Arsenal and Manchester City respectively will be under pressure to put out their strongest possible line-ups in the Champions League.
Tottenham, having been in the Champions League disappointing failed at the first hurdle and have now dropped into the Europa League. On the plus side this may afford them the luxury of keeping important players like Harry Kane and Deli Alli fresh for the league campaign.
Will dropping out of Europe help win the League?
It’s no coincidence that neither of the two clubs at the summit of the Premier League table are involved in European competition. However, there is another school of thought on the matter. A successful European campaign provide a team with a lot of confidence, and if they’re able to take this confidence into the league it may well stand them in good stead for a title push.
It’s tough to keep a settled side in the league when playing midweek fixtures in Europe; and a consistent line-up is often key to winning the Premier League. This has been proven by Chelsea’s dominance throughout the first half of the season. And for that reason it’s hard to look beyond the current leaders or Liverpool for the title. That is, unless the other clubs fail in the first knockout round of Europe.