For the first time since 2008-09, four English teams have reached the quarter-final stage of the Champions League and two English teams have also reached the same stage of the Europa League. Given that in the last three seasons combined, only four English teams have reached the Champions League last eight, this is certainly a very positive step.
The riches of the Premier League have always been a stick to beat its teams with when in previous years they seemingly inevitably exited early, but as many clubs have shown, money has never been enough – shrewd investment is also key, and the English top flight is now finally seeing some of its good coaching play an important role. Over the past few years, the likes of Pep Guardiola, Jürgen Klopp and David Wagner have been successful in importing pressing football to England. Combine this with the newly arrived Sarri-ball and until now successful Emery-ball and you get a distinctly continental flavour to English football, which has given its teams the edge in Europe this season.
One of the pleasing things to see as well was how easily most of the teams made it through. Arsenal had a slight blip in Rennes following an early red card, and Manchester United struggled against a very strong PSG, but besides those ties, the English teams dominated their opposition.
Although the coefficient is now less important in terms of qualification places, as the top four European teams automatically receive four qualification places for the group stages of the Champions League, it is still significant as good past performances can lead to increased financial reward, with the best leagues receiving more money. This will only serve to strengthen the Premier League teams for future European challenges.
That the new found strength of English teams in Europe is occurring at the same time as the English academies are producing some of the best talent in the world is a happy coincidence that could lead to many more years of success to come. It may have been a while since English teams were high flying in Europe but, having regained some of their dominance, I predict that they will be there for a long time to come.