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Will Premier League Clubs Fare Better in the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League?

It’s not really worthy of celebration, but England has performed better than last season in the UEFA Champions League.

No Premier League clubs advanced to the quarter-finals in 2014/15. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City were all knocked out before the last eight were drawn not this year. City is flying the English flag before the 2015/16 Champions League quarter-final draw.

Spain have three clubs, Germany have two, while England, Portugal and France split the remaining three spots. It means a 100 percent improvement on last season’s EPL performance. Chelsea and Arsenal were bitten by familiar foes in Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona, so City is the Premier League’s last club standing.

On paper, manager Manuel Pellegrini’s side are the fifth- or sixth-best club of eight, but the lottery-like aspect of draws and unpredictable nature of football means anything is possible.

The Citizens’ potential is dependent on completely random factors, but the only thing they could control (i.e. them having a miniature ball in a pot) was handled vs. Dynamo Kiev.

Understanding Barca and Bayern Munich are the obvious favourites to win the Champions League, with PSG, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid in the chasing pack, England would be extremely lucky and fortunate to secure Europe’s most prestigious club-cup competition this term. While Man City would be doing the Premier League a favour in terms of UEFA’s coefficient, their progressing past the semi-final stage is not exactly a sane expectation.

One supposes the next step is investigating if England’s current top-four hopefuls can improve on this year’s display.

On one hand, you look at money, talent, form and relatively harsh draws for Chelsea and Arsenal, and you think getting over one club in the 2016/17 UCL quarter-finals is plausible. On the other, however, when looking at the table, there are mysterious entities lurking in, or around, the top-four spectrum.

Perennial contenders Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal are 50 percent of the equation, but 50 percent of it cannot exactly be vouched for with any level of confidence.

The Premier League’s top two clubs, Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur, are all but guaranteed top-four positions. Unless calamity strikes one of their fantastic campaigns when navigating the final hurdles, the two title favourites will be automatic group-stage participants next season.

Fifth-place West Ham United are within striking distance. Entering the Olympic Stadium with the likes of talisman Dimitri Payet, the Hammers are serious threats to the current order.

Though making for exciting stories, it seems rather worrisome.

By Robert Muriisa,

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