Does European football have a negative effect on a Premier League team’s domestic performance?
It’s often mentioned that teams challenging for the top 4 have a better chance if they aren’t involved in European football. You might also have read that clubs involved in Europe tend to have poorer domestic form as a result of the extra midweek games. I thought I’d take a look at it myself to see if there’s any correlation so I looked at the English teams involved in European competition over the past two seasons paying attention to the games that preceded and followed a midweek game.
Clubs involved in European football 2017/18
6 English Clubs were involved in European competition last season. Everton and Arsenal in the Europa League and Liverpool, Man City, Spurs and Man Utd in the Champions League.
Everton began the season terribly and were in the relegation zone when they sacked Ronald Koeman. Their record before a Europa league match was 2 wins 2 losses 2 draws. Hard to say if the Europa league had any effect on their performances due to the number of new signings they made last season and the change in manager.
Arsenal were able to field a second string team for much of the competition. Therefore the impact of the Europa League was minimal. Their results before matches were 4 wins and 2 losses, one of which was against Manchester United.
Liverpool possibly felt the effects of the Champions League after a midweek game. They didn’t quite have the squad depth that other teams had to compete on all fronts and look much better equipped this season. They had a record before a European tie of 4 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss which was the 5-0 loss to Manchester City.
Manchester City had no such problems dealing with 2 games a week They won all of their games before and after a Champions League tie.
European football didn’t seem to affect Spurs either as they didn’t lose a game the weekend after a Champions League tie. Of the games they played prior to a midweek game they won 3, drew 1 and lost 2. The losses however, were to Arsenal and Manchester City so hardly gimmes.
Manchester United’s results appear a little mixed although the loss to Huddersfield is the only shock result given the opposition in the other two matches. They won 4 and drew 2 of the matches the weekend before a European game.
The 2016/17 season saw Southampton and Manchester United in Europa League action with the Manchester club going on to win the competition. Champions Leicester as well as Manchester City, Spurs and Arsenal were all involved in Champions League.
Southampton appeared to have coped well after their Europa League games with only the one loss to Hull City. Manchester United, on the other hand had a mixed bag of results with 2 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses. One stand out game is the 4-0 loss to Chelsea who had no European football that season. United didn’t fair very well before a match either winning only one of their 6 matches.
Leicester performed extremely well in Europe. Despite results after a midweek game looking ok their form prior to a Champions League match was dire. They didn’t manage a single win in the six games leading up to a European game, recording 5 losses and a draw. This may have something to do with their off-field problems.
Manchester City didn’t fare too well after a Champions League tie, possibly as a result of Pep focusing on Europe and having two tough ties against Barcelona. Their results before a game were good however winning 4 drawing 1 and losing 1 to Chelsea (No European football).
Arsenal won their early games in the Champions League and could then rest players once they had qualified. European football therefore didn’t seem to impact their results. They won 5 of the games before a Champions League game and drew 1 with Manchester United.
Spurs had some tough games following their midweek games which could be why they have mixed results. They did however manage 4 wins and 2 draws before their games.
It’s very hard to see any correlation between European games impacting domestic games. Most teams appear to achieve results similar to what they would have whether competing in Europe or not. There are some other factors that possibly contribute to good or bad results. These include the quality of the opposition, form that season, the size of the squad to be able to cope with more games and possible injuries, whether the club was focusing on Europe or not, and off the field issues.
So for those possibly avoiding players from teams playing in Europe one of the above factors may be a reason not to go for them or if the club has a large squad then rotation could be an issue from an FPL point of view.