Welcome to the Virgin Media Midweek Kick-off! This week, we ask sports writers Andrew Lowry and Andy Dawson if we’re lucky enough to be witnessing a golden age in the world’s supreme sporting contest.
Yes, it’s the best of the best
“Vardy is a breath of fresh Yorkshire air. Pure football romance” – Andrew Lowry, journalist
The minnows have smashed the league’s glass ceiling
Even the most ardent Gooner has to concede it’s refreshing that the gap between The Big Five and The Rest hasn’t so much narrowed as collapsed. And it’s not just Leicester. Crystal Palace, Stoke and Watford are all providing consistent quality and bucketloads of entertainment. Tellingly, every club in the league had been beaten by September: the fastest this has ever happened.
The backroom drama
Louis van Gaal’s galling press conferences. Pep Guardiola’s guarded career plans. Jurgen Klopp’s flop with the Kop. It’s drama that Aaron Sorkin himself would be proud of scripting. And none more so than the antics at Stamford Bridge: is there anybody in the country who isn’t chomping at the bit for José Mourinho’s tetchy final months at Chelsea to get The Damned United treatment?
Jamie Vardy won our hearts
In an era when the influx of foreign players is supposedly stifling home-grown talent, Jamie Vardy is a breath of fresh Yorkshire air. A little over three years ago he was playing non-League footy for Fleetwood Town. Today, the 29-year-old holds the record for the most goals scored in consecutive Premiership games (with 11). Pure football romance.
The stakes are higher than ever
For the league’s clubs, cash from a record £5 billion domestic TV deal which will soon be divvied up among the top flight’s salivating finance departments. Yup, you read that right: 5 BILLION pounds – plus millions more from the overseas rights. I’m no economist, but that’s some incentive to scratch, bite and claw your way out of the relegation zone.
Bournemouth are in it
Let’s face it: a visit to the south coast on a Saturday afternoon is a wee bit more enticing than an away day trip to Burnley or Middlesbrough.
Is Andrew on to something? Join the debate #PrimePrem
No, it’s the same old story
“The top teams dropping points isn’t competitiveness but ineptitude” – Andy Dawson, football writer
The rise of the minnows is just a phase and it’s almost over
When future generations look back at the final league table, they won’t realise that there’d even been a challenge from the smaller clubs. Face it, folks: it’s finished. The form of Palace, Watford and Leicester has tailed off in recent weeks and their heroic nibble at the ankles of the big dogs will be shaken off for good come May.
The league is all filler and no killer
The absence of any standout challengers for the title is maddening beyond belief. No side has won the EPL while losing more than six matches since Blackburn in 1995 – current leaders Arsenal have already lost four and it’s only January. The fact that teams at the top are all dropping points isn’t a sign of a competitive league but one of ineptitude among the big-spending giants.
No more José or G-Nev
If you’d said back in August that José Mourinho would have been sacked by Christmas and that Gary Neville would be off managing Valencia, concerned friends would have justifiably questioned the quality of your sleep. But that’s where we’re at – two of the most engaging characters in English football and we’ve lost them. It’s a duller, darker landscape without them.
Sunderland’s all-green away strip
Just who gave the thumbs up for this lurid horror kit? The only explanation is that broadcasters requested it in order to apply green screen technology to make watching the Mackems play somehow enjoyable. It’s an argument for technology in football if ever there was one.
Bournemouth are in it
There’s nothing romantic about the Cherries’ elevation to the top flight if they’re embroiled in a desperate scrap for survival – they should have spurned their Premier League place last summer and carried on winning every week in the Championship. Where their (admittedly bright) little ground belongs.
Agree with Andy? Join the debate #SameOldPrem
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