How strong are Premier League teams?
The Premier League often markets itself as the world’s strongest league, and certainly the Champions League performance of its elite teams between 2005 and 2012 testifies to that.
The fantastic Club Elo website keeps a historical rating of European clubs, dating back to the 1960s. Using this database, I was interested to see how the current level of English clubs relates to how the nation’s teams have performed historically.
By taking the ranking of the top 50 teams in Europe at the end of each season – 31st May or the closest archived date – the chart below illustrates how many places English teams have occupied amongst the very best clubs on the continent.
Currently there are only 7 English clubs in the top 50, the lowest point since 2004. The 21st Century peak of 13 clubs in 2008, including 4 in the top 10, still ranks well below the high points of the 1970s and 80s, where England had as many as 18 clubs in the top 50 (1974), and 5 in the top 10 (1979). It seems unlikely that English football will dominate to this level again, owing to the increased depth and professionalism across European football.
There’s plenty more to be investigated with this data, including how, if at all, the strength of English clubs relates to the performance of its national team, as well as other factors.