Leicester Mercury

City's domestic form may not suffer too badly


- By JORDAN BLACKWELL jordan.blackwell@reachplc.com @jrdnblackw­ell

LEICESTER City’s Europa League campaign kicks off tonight and supporters will be strapped in for their domestic form to take a hit.

It’s become an accepted fact that competing in the Europa League, with long trips to Eastern Europe, the Thursday-Sunday turnaround, and the sheer number of European fixtures, has a detrimenta­l impact on a club’s performanc­e in the Premier League.

But how true is that? We’ve taken three generally accepted statements around the Europa League and delved deep into the numbers to determine their accuracy.

For this analysis, we’ve picked the Europa League-competing sides that had not played in European football the previous season, as in City’s case.

Since the Europa League came into existence in 2009-10, in an adaption from the Uefa Cup, there have been 11 Premier League sides that fulfil the brief.

Statement: Competing in the Europa League negatively affects Premier League performanc­e True? Yes

Expecting a dip in Premier League performanc­e is a correct assumption for City fans to make this term, but the drop-off is perhaps not quite as steep as most would expect.

On average, the 11 clubs in focus finished seven points worse off in the Premier League, which, last season, would have been the difference between fifth and ninth for City.

However, it is not certain that there will be a blow to the Premier League form, with four of the 11 clubs actually finishing with higher points totals in the Europa League years.

Pleasingly, the best performers were Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool, who earned nine points more in 2012-13 than they did a year earlier.

What brings the average down are a few outliers.

In 2012-13, Newcastle were 24 points worse off, while in 2014-15, Everton finished 25 points down.

Under Claude Puel in 2016-17, Southampto­n suffered a drop of 17 points.

Statement: Competing in the Europa League negatively affects domestic cup performanc­e True? Yes

City have already had first-hand experience of this, losing to Arsenal in this season’s Carabao Cup third round for their worst performanc­e in the competitio­n for a few years.

And it is correct that displays in the League and FA Cups do suffer when the Europa League is also on the agenda.

Of the 11 clubs and their 22 domestic cup campaigns, there were 10 cases of sides being knocked out earlier than the previous year, six examples of clubs reaching the same round, and six times where the clubs went deeper into the competitio­n.

Statement: Competing in the Europa League negatively affects results in the Premier League games immediatel­y after True? No

It’s generally accepted that the Premier League fixtures after a Europa League tie are a write-off, as the players are drained from the midweek clash and the long flights that can come with it. But it’s simply not the case. Comparing the points per game for clubs immediatel­y after Europa League clashes with their points per game average for the whole season, there is minimal difference.

In fact, on average, clubs pick up just 0.01 points per game less in their fixtures directly after Europa League ties.

So, the City fans stressing over how the team might perform at Sheffield United in December, when they’ve travelled to Ukraine to face Zorya Luhansk a few days earlier, needn’t worry.

It seems there is a detrimenta­l impact overall, but it does not manifest itself in the games straight after.

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