EPL: Best in the world

EPL: Best in the world
Manchester City's Samir Nasri (left) challenges Liverpool's Glen Johnson during their English Premier League football match at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England April 13, 2014.

Back in the late 1980s, English football was at its lowest ebb.

Clubs were banned from European competition, hooliganism was rife, battered old stadiums were crumbling to the ground and the top flight was populated by a plethora of long-ball merchants and hatchet men.

However, the advent of the English Premier League in 1992 changed everything.

Despite the recent re-emergence of the Bundesliga, the quality of the top teams in Spain and the current battle between big-spending Monaco and PSG in France, the EPL remains the best of the lot. Here's why.

UNPREDICTABILITY

Can you think of any other major league where a team like Sunderland, who were languishing at the bottom of the table three weeks ago after a miserable run of 10 games without a win, could secure four points from back-to-back trips to Manchester City and Chelsea before stuffing relegation rivals Cardiff 4-0 to climb out of the drop zone?

It just doesn't happen anywhere else. And talking of City, where's the logic in Manuel Pellegrini's men hitting Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur for six but then losing to Cardiff and Aston Villa? Crazy.

It was Villa who set the tone this season with their shock 3-1 win at Arsenal on the opening day, yet the Villains could still find themselves relegated to the Championship at the end of this tumultuous campaign.

LOCAL DERBIES

Because England is so small and densely populated, it can't escape producing a wealth of local derbies and rivalries between near neighbours.

Is there anything better than the north London Derby when both teams are chasing silverware? Or a Midlands Derby when relegation is on the line?

The passion generated by the Merseyside Derby? Paolo Di Canio sliding on his knees during the Tyne-Wear version? And we've not even mentioned Manchester United's historic rivalry with Liverpool or their new-found issues with their noisy neighbours.

Yes, there are certain games like the historically-significant clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona, the ugly religious undercurrent of an Old Firm battle and the pure madness of Boca Juniors versus River Plate, but the sheer number of potentially volatile clashes between bitter rivals in the EPL puts them top of the pile overall.

BOARDROOM MADNESS

Football chairmen and directors were once anonymous characters who shuffled around boardrooms in ill-fitting suits serving cups of tea to semi-drunk newspaper reporters. Not any more.

More and more club owners are only too happy to thrust themselves into the spotlight by turning up with entourages, flashing cash around like confetti at a wedding and making wildly unpopular decisions like changing traditional team names and kits.

And the league is richer and more interesting because of it. Even owners who prefer anonymity like Newcastle's asset-stripping Mike Ashley (honestly, has anyone ever heard him speak?) are unable to escape the spotlight.

NEWSPAPER NONSENSE

No country in the world does trash journalism like the British and Premier League footballers are a gift from the gods for the Fleet Street hacks.

John Terry's affair with his best mate Wayne Bridge's ex missus anyone? Ryan Giggs and his sister-in-law. Classic, lowest-common-denominator stories that are lapped up the world over.

Even last week on a slow news day, a story emerged that Roy Keane could become the assistant manager to Louis van Gaal at Man United. You couldn't make it up. Well actually, they probably did.

FANS

Last weekend, Stoke City entertained Tottenham in a game that, in the grand scheme of things, had very little meaning; the Potters sat safely in mid table and Tim Sherwood's men were well adrift of the top four.

Yet the noise generated by the 26,000 fans present was electric, hitting previously unheard of decibel levels. Imagine what would happen if Stoke were chasing silverware?

Swansea have the lowest average attendance in the EPL at 20,391, but that represents a mammoth 98 per cent of their capacity. In short, near enough every game at the Liberty is a sell-out. Seven EPL clubs boast an average attendance in excess of 40,000, including lowly Sunderland.

The term "die-hard" was surely coined when referring to the long-suffering Black Cats' followers.

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