There can be little argument against the idea that the English Premier League is one of the most competitive divisions in world football - but it can no longer claim to be the best.
Whilst the Premier League remains as fast, frantic and competitive, from top to bottom as ever, it cannot be seen as the pinnacle of world football.
Most would agree that the UEFA Champions League is the world's premier competition, therefore, the only feasible and fair way to judge a league is by how their clubs perform in the Champions League. A fair assessment?
Even though current champions Chelsea hail from English shores, over recent years Premier League teams have struggled against their European counterparts. A point proven by Chelsea crashing out at the group stage of the competition this season, becoming the first reigning champions to do so.
Premier League Champions, Manchester City, also failed to make it through the group stages. Granted, their group consisted of both the Spanish and German Champions, but this further highlights how the Premier League's best teams are currently off the pace.
European stalwarts, Manchester United and Arsenal, also looked far from convincing in qualifying for the Last 16. Gone are the days of all four English teams progressing through the tournament and dominating the knockout stages.
In 2008, three of the four semi-finalists were English - Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United. Of those, Liverpool eliminated Arsenal in the previous round. Last season, eventual winners Chelsea were the only English club to make it to the quarter-final stage.
In the space of four years, the English stranglehold on the UEFA Champions League has loosened significantly. Which begs the questions, why and how?
Football, as always, changes and evolves. Now more than ever, technique and flair are the most cherished and valuable qualities. European football relies on extreme technical and tactical competency. It is completely at contrast with the hustle and bustle of the Premier League, which has the odd splash of flair and creativity thrown in for good measure.
How often are English teams out-played and out-fought in Europe? Found technically wanting and way off the pace? Even our the football powerhouse that is Manchester United spent two legs chasing shadows, against mid-table Spanish outfit Athletic Bilbao, in the Europa League!
These reasons go some way in accounting for the visible decline in quality of the English Premier League. And as the current crop of English internationals ply their trade in the Premier League, it gives an insight into the national team's shortcomings.
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