We are at the cusp of Premier League’s arguably most competitive season, with about 8 teams having a chance at the title. Logic dictates that the team with the most talented squad, and squad depth would win the title. However, Arsene Wenger just said that since almost every team has gotten stronger, its possible to drop a large number of points for every team. What that really means is that consistency, not incredible talent, might be the secret sauce to winning the premier league this season.
We saw a demonstration of that last season as well. Leicester are by no means the strongest squad in the league – maybe not even top 10, but they consistently got good results, and thus won the league. Meanwhile, Chelsea, arguably the most talented squad in the league, finished tenth because they dropped points against too many teams at the bottom half of the table.
Now, the question is: where would Barcelona finish if they played in the Premier League? Barcelona are going into the season with both the logical things to have – incredible talent, and amazing squad depth. But Barça also have something that most other Premier League teams don’t and that is incredible consistency.
First, let us look at the players. In Claudio Bravo we have one of the most consistent shot stoppers in the world. Sure, he might not have the experience of Cech, the height of Courtois or be the burning talent that De Gea is, but when it counts you can depend on him to make sure the opponent doesn’t score. For example, Bravo kept 16 clean sheets in the 32 games he played in the league last season. This ranks amongst the best in the Premier League, with Cech getting 16 in 34, and Schmeichel, De Gea and Hart getting 15 each.
For defense, we have Gerard Pique and Mascherano at the center of defense, which is one of the best defensive pairings in the world. To actually illustrate how solid they are, lets look at some numbers. Barça conceded 29 goals last season and were the second best defense in the league (behind Atlético Madrid); in comparison, the spot for the Premier League team with the least goals conceded is a tie between Manchester United, and Spurs, who both conceded 35 goals. I don’t think there’s any question that Barcelona’s defense is better than any other defense in the Premier League.
Coming to the midfield, we have the best defensive midfielder in the world in Sergio Busquets. In comparison, we have Kante for Chelsea, Schniederlin for United, Kouyate for West Ham, Coquelin for Arsenal, Dier for Spurs, and Fernando for City.
While Busquets lacks behind these guys in terms of breaking up the play (he has the lowest amount of average interceptions per game), he is statistically the best at passing forward, backward, average pass completion, and second best in making key passes, only behind Kouyate. While what a DM needs to do in La Liga is very different to what his duties are in the premier league, I think it’s fair to assume that Busquets would still be the best chance creating DM if Barcelona were to play in BPL.
In the middle of the park, we have Rakitic and Iniesta. I don’t think these guys even deserve an analysis. There are many other midfield pairs that create more chances (Eriksen and Alli, Silva and De Bruyne, or Ozil and Cazorla), but none of them even come close to the consistency of Ivan Rakitic or the finesse of Iniesta. Rakitic is arguably the most consistent box-to-box midfielder in the world right now, and there is no comparison to the talent of Don Andres. Rakitic is also a workhorse, and dominating both in the air and on the ground, so it would be fair to assume he would do just as well in the Premier League. Iniesta is not as dominant a presence in the middle of the park, but what he lacks in size he more than makes up for in ball control and passing. His work ethic has also massively improved. So if the likes of Eriksen, Mata, Fabregas, and Cazorla and Silva have done well, we can expect Iniesta to do much the same. In fact, most of these guys have been more creative than they were in their home leagues, so expect to see fireworks from our Maestro.
Coming to the front line, Neymar, Suarez and Messi are arguably the greatest trident in the history of football. No other front line comes even remotely close to creating and finishing chances. The Premier League doesn’t have a lot of world-class strikers. In fact, the top 5 forwards in my opinion – Messi, Suarez, Neymar, Ronaldo and Lewandowski - all play in a different league. Its fair to assume that MSN would do just as well, if not better in the league. Suarez will always be more consistent that Aguero. Neymar will also be more skillful and direct than a Martial, Mahrez or Alexis, and Messi is miles ahead of the competition.
Remember, Barcelona scored a 110 goals last season, as compared to City (who were the highest scorers in the league) scored a paltry 71. Leicester only had to score 68, to win the league. I’m assuming Barcelona can score that many by January.
So, after a statical analysis, I think it’s fair to assume that Barcelona would dominate the league. And yes, Messi can do it on a rainy night at Stoke.
Here are my predictions for the Top 10:
2. Manchester United
3. Manchester City
9. West Ham
What's your prediction for a Premier League with Barcelona?