HomeFeatured ArticlesThe Effects of Europa League On Premier League Teams

The Effects of Europa League On Premier League Teams

Last Thursday, two Premier League teams, Swansea City and Tottenham Hotspur, started the group stages of the Europa League.  Both teams were able to start their Europa League campaigns with wins then come back and both get win on Sunday, in the Premier League, with Swansea getting a comfortable 2-0 over Palace and Spurs getting an injury time winner away to Cardiff.  While both were able to succeed after their first round of Europa League fixtures, could the Europa League become a problem later in the season for either team?


There are lots of different opinions about the Europa League.  The positive way people look at it is, the Europa League is a good way to test your team to see how they play against teams in Europe, how they handle the different styles of play, be able to offer some kind of European football, and to see if your squad is good enough and deep enough to compete on an extra front.  The negative way people look at it is, the league is a waste of time and a distraction which will just hurt your league form, the travel that comes with going into the far reaches of Europe hurts your team, as well as playing on Thursday then Sunday, and, with the teams parachuting in from the Champions League, there is not a great chance of winning the competition.  Many times smaller English clubs that aren’t aspiring for a huge amount of success in the league like the Europa League and it is something they strive for while the bigger teams that aspire to be in the Champions League feel that it just gets in the way of them improving their standing in the league.  How bad are the drawbacks of the Europa League, like playing Thursday then Sunday, traveling all over Europe, and having the extra fixtures?  Many fans of teams in the Europa League complain about the fact that they have to go play in Europe on Thursday then come back and play in the League on Sunday but how much does the competition affect Premier League form?

Playing on Thursday then Sunday

Since 2010-2011, eight Premier League teams have gone into the Europa League group stages with some advancing and some being unable to get past the group stages.  Of those eight teams only two teams have been able to win more than half of the points available to them after having to play on Thursday then play Sunday, those teams being 2010-2011 Liverpool winning 13 out of 24 and 2011-2012 Spurs winning 18 out of 21.  The other six teams were 2010-2011 Manchester City, 2011-2012 Fulham, 2011-2012 Stoke City, 2012-2013 Newcastle, 2012-2013 Liverpool, and 2012-2013 Tottenham.  The two teams that struggled the most after going Thursday Sunday were 2011-2012 Fulham, taking 10 of 24 points, and 2012-2013 Newcastle, taking only 16 of 36 available points.  All of the teams combined took 108 points of 210 available points equating to taking 51.4% of the points available after them having to play on Thursday then Sunday.  For the more mid table team like Fulham, Stoke and Newcastle that is not bad but for the teams that strive to go higher that is not great and probably not good enough.

Going all over Europe

Since the Europa League isn’t the top tier European League, you get some teams from the outreaches of Europe and teams must travel then come back turn around and play almost immediately.  Many think this is one of the big challenges of the Europa League and that it seriously effects English teams having to travel so far then come back.  Surprisingly, only one of the eight teams, 2011-2012 Stoke, won less then half of the points available to them after Europa League away games.  Those eight teams won 66 of 102 points, or 64.7% of the points available to them, after playing an away game in the Europa League then coming back on Sunday to play in the league.  That equates to 1.9 points per game.  If teams continued to average 1.9 points per game for the rest of the season that would leave them on 73.7 points for the year which, if rounded up to 74, would get a team into the top four all but one of the last 10 years.  Surprisingly enough, it seems like going away in Europe hasn’t seemed to effect teams too much.

Extra Fixtures

When teams are in the Europa League, they have another competition to compete in which gives them extra fixtures that is always taxing on a team.  With the extra fixtures you need a bigger squad and be able to rotate your team to keep your players fresh.  Now of course teams in the Champions League also have to deal with the extra fixtures, but with the extra money and what should be a stronger squad those teams tend to be more prepared.  With all the extra fixtures it can effect teams, especially smaller teams with smaller squads, throughout the whole season.  This is where teams that are not used to playing in Europe, like Newcastle last season, can seriously struggle.  Last season with Newcastle really were a perfect example with the injuries building up and players looking tired in games and they dropped from fifth to 16th and from 65 points to 41 points.

While there are the examples of extreme low, like Newcastle last season, of the eight teams you can’t say there is a huge success story, among the group of eight teams looked at.  The only team of the eight that made it to the Champions League the next season has been the 2010-2011 Manchester City team and, it has to be said, that team brought in a some huge players, like David Silva, Mario Ballotelli, and Yaya Toure, while losing almost no one and even with all that they actually only increased their point total by four.  There is one other team that made it into the top four while playing in the Europa League, 2011-2012 Tottenham, but they were not allowed in the Champions League due to Chelsea winning the Champions League.  Of the eight teams looked at, only two of the teams increased their point total by more than four points, 2011-2012 Tottenham and 2012-2013 Liverpool, while two teams have had their points total decrease by more than 15 points, 2010-2011 Aston Villa and 2012-2013 Newcastle.  While you can improve while in the Europa League, it seems to be tough for a top team to be able to take that next step and get into the Champions League and for a lower team in the competition it leaves the risk of seriously struggling.  The Europa League does seem to be more of an impediment from allowing your team to take the next step up.

Follow me on twitter @The_Jersey_Fitz.
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