If anybody knows me well, they would know that I believe the English Premier League is the best league in the world when it comes to the competitiveness from top to bottom. Yes, the EPL had a down year as Chelsea were the only real top team in England this season.
Next season, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal will return to the Champions League, while Manchester United will have to go through a playoff to qualify for the group stage. All of these teams will need to strengthen this summer, but I feel English clubs are at a disadvantage compared to other European teams.
Every other European league in the world has a winter break where the players can get rest and recover. In England, that is definitely not the case. In fact, in England, the fixtures are congested during the Christmas season and clubs are playing three games in a seven day span.
Teams like Bayern Munich and Barcelona and Real Madrid, the cream of the crop, are able to get their players rest and allow them to go on vacations to not only rest their body, but rest their mind to give them a fresh start for the second half of the season, which includes the knockout stages of the Champions League in February.
Chelsea should have done better in Europe this season, but fell to PSG. Yes, you could argue Jose Mourinho did not adequately rotate his squad to freshen up the team, but to be fair, Barcelona has been playing the same eleven for the majority of the season once Luis Enrique figured it out.
Chelsea do not have a deep squad, but I do not even think that is the main problem. For me, English clubs are going to struggle in Europe until there is a winter break or some sort of break like the rest of European clubs receive. And clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea and Arsenal cannot afford to rest key players on the weekend league matches because if they take that risk, they could ultimately drop points to an Aston Villa or a Sunderland squad, which could cost them in the title race.
Teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, and even Bayern Munich receive the winter break as well as having the luxury to rotate the squad before a midweek Champions League clash because the depth of La Liga or the Bundesliga is not like the English Premier League, where anybody can lose on a given day.
Another thing that England needs to abandon in my opinion, is the FA Cup replays. To be fair, the FA Cup has lost its appeal to some degree in recent years so top clubs are willing to play a weakened side for those fixtures. However, if the match ends in a draw, instead of going to extra time and finishing the encounter that day, the clubs have to play again on the opposite team’s ground, which just adds more fixtures throughout the season.
The Capital One Cup, also known as the League Cup, is another cup in England where there are no replays and the winner is determined that day, rather than dragging out a potential third round cup tie with a League One side that could hinder both clubs’ campaign.
If English clubs want to return to glory in Europe, they need to strengthen the depth of their squads, but also need help from the FA to somehow add a winter break as well as eliminating the FA Cup replays.