LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea’s elimination from the Champions League after losing to Paris St Germain on the away goals rule leaves the English Premier League facing the embarrassing realisation that it is not, as it likes to think, the best league in the world.
A month after clinching a 5.1 billion pounds ($7.64 billion) TV rights deal, there is a very real possibility that for the second time in three seasons, no English club will make it into the last eight of European soccer’s elite competition.
Arsenal, beaten 3-1 at home by AS Monaco in the first leg of their round of 16 tie, and Manchester City, who lost 2-1 at home to Barcelona in theirs, are both on the brink of elimination ahead of next week’s second legs, while only Everton have reached the last 16 of the Europa League.
When news of the Premier League’s contract with Sky and BT Sports was announced last month, their chief executive Richard Scudamore said: “If you do any international survey, things like the Premier League, the BBC and the Queen are the things that people feel good about the UK.”
There were few agreeing with him about the Premier League though after the negative showing of league leaders Chelsea against a resolute PSG team forced to play for 90 minutes of the match that went to extra time with 10 men after their talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was controversially sent off after 31 minutes.
The 2-2 draw on the night and 3-3 aggregate score meant they qualified on away goals.
Jamie Carragher, who won a Champions League medal with Liverpool in 2005 was scathing in his assessment for Sky about Chelsea’s performance saying that coach Jose Mourinho’s negative tactics would never endear him to the wider football public.
“Chelsea are the best team in our league but we are miles away from success. Look at the TV deal that has just gone through,” Carragher said.
”We’ve got the richest league in the world with some of the best players and we want to see the English teams do well, but we are being kidded.
“PSG completely deserved to win it, our teams are miles away. Mourinho could end up the most successful manager ever, but his teams will always be unloved because of the way they play.”
Gary Neville, who picked up two Champions League medals with Manchester United, and is now working as an analyser for Sky said: ”Chelsea were awful, PSG were wonderful but this result shows you where we are in Europe at the moment.
“Chelsea are out, City and Arsenal are in trouble, Liverpool and Tottenham are out (of the Europa League), we have seen tonight Chelsea, our team best equipped to go on in this competition, have been put out -- and deservedly so.”
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Editing by Sudipto Ganguly