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Is the Premier League Standard the Best it's Ever Been?

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Premier League Winner/Top Scorer

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Chelsea/Ronaldo @ 8/1

the standard back in the day

Nowadays, managers can spend over £100m on a single player and all of these teams are scattered with international stars from all across Europe. Manchester City’s squad alone is worth over £1bn with Manchester United and Chelsea also spending obscene amounts of money to challenge for the league title. However, during the mid-2000s, only Chelsea were able to spend money so freely as Roman Abramovich was desperate for success with the Blues.

United also spent money when necessary, however, it wasn’t anywhere near the extent they do now. Arsenal and Liverpool also didn’t spend like Chelsea or City, Wenger and Benitez were more reliant on their ability to develop and motivate players to be able to reach higher levels and compete for the biggest prizes on offer. Sir Alex Ferguson was a master of evolving his team over the years and adapting the way they were set up to remain competitive at the highest level and most managers nowadays are more reliant on systems and try over and over again to bring in players to fit into their particular philosophy.

The standard in the mid-2000s may be slightly higher in terms of the very best players, it would be difficult to say for certain that the overall level of talent was higher due to the way football has changed in recent years.

Premier League Odds

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Norwich to score less than 20 PL goals (Sheff Utd 20 goals 20/21, Derby 20 goals (07/08) @ 200/1

The Goalscorers

The likes of Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane have been in and around the conversation for the Premier League Golden Boot in recent seasons and now, all of the top four that seem to be challenging for the league have recognised goalscorers leading the line.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s record speaks for itself and he has already hit the ground running with a brace on his return to Manchester. Romelu Lukaku has also arrived from Italy and scored three in four league games for Chelsea so far.

Elsewhere, Sadio Mane and Salah have also started the season brightly at Liverpool with seven goals between them. but however, after the departure of Sergio Aguero, Manchester City are without any main goalscoring threat, with Raheem Sterling's numbers decreasing over the last season.

Thierry Henry’s goal record was outstanding as he won the Golden Boot three years running between 2003 and 2006, scoring 77 goals in that time helping Arsenal to a famous invincible title in 2003/04. Didier Drogba’s record wasn’t as impressive, only hitting 20+ goals twice. However, he did help the blues to two consecutive tiles in 2004/05 and 2005/06.

Ruud van Nistelrooy holds one of the best goals to game ratio’s in the Premier League, however, and his forward nature remains near enough unrivalled in today's game. The following season he left for Real Madrid and Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney took helped United to the title with 31 goals between the pair of them, but these numbers are still off what we see today.

Overall the top teams nowadays seem to need more than one main goalscorer to win the title and all four teams are well stacked with talent in attacking areas, but it's the goalscorers coming across the pitch that seems to catch the eye.

Henry may indeed be the best ever, but nowadays, there are four or five players heading for the Golden boot, so there is only one winner here.

Winner: present day

Premier League Odds

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Liverpool to score the most goals in the 21/22 PL season @ 5/1

The managers

The managers during the mid-2000s were seemingly more decorated than those in charge now because at the time, the top four managers had 23 top flight titles between them compared to the 14 those in charge have now.

Arsene Wenger managed to revolutionise English football with the modern changes he implemented at Arsenal, while Rafael Benitez was seen as a tactical genius, after breaking the Barcelona and Real Madrid dominance in Spain - Benitez secured a league title for Valencia and won the Champions League against all odds at Liverpool.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s legacy was already secured as one of the most decorated managers in history, and his 13 Premier League titles and two Champions Leagues need no introduction. Jose Mourinho was one of the most sought-after young managers in football after one of the most surprising Champions League triumphs with Porto in 2004 and his record-breaking years remain some of the best in the Premier League era during the mid-noughties.

Pep Guardiola is the closest from the current crop to compare to these managers, surpassing most of them in the eyes of many football fans. Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel have taken strides in recent seasons, both winning the Champions League, however, neither have dominated in the Premier League for multiple seasons. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the least experienced at the top level amongst the current crop as he has failed to win any silverware during his time at Old Trafford, so this brings down this argument quite a bit.

Winner: 2000s

Premier League Odds

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Norwich to score the least amount of goals in 21/22 @ 11/4

Then vs now

In the mid-2000s, the managers had to rely more on their overall managerial and coaching ability to get the most out of their players. In the modern-day Premier League, billions of pounds are spent to assemble the squads and managers can replace a £50m player with another if he doesn’t work out.

The way teams are set up is arguably more robotic as the game is so reliant on the system implemented by the managers rather than the talent and individuality of players, whereas there was clear discrepancy between the top six and the rest of the league back then. The likes of Wenger and Mourinho did cultivate their own styles of play, however, the individuality of players in their squad was still able to shine through.

Both generations have their pros and cons which could mean that they are similar in terms of level compared to the rest of the league, such as Leicester City breaking into the top six and Arsenal of all clubs, heading the other way.

There isn't really a real winner here, but in terms of overall competitiveness, there is only one winner.

Winner: present day