The Uefa coefficient ranking has reared its ugly head again after both Arsenal and Chelsea fell to surprise defeats in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
The two losses mean that the four Premier League clubs, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United, have now won just one of a possible six matches in the competition this season and English clubs are now in very real danger of losing their fourth berth for the 2016-17 season, spelling bad news for those clubs and the chasing pack of Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
Unless the Premier League clubs significantly outplay their Serie A rivals this season, it is something that will happen.
Arsenal 2 Olympiakos 3 player ratings
Arsenal 2 Olympiakos 3 player ratings
1/11 David Ospina: 3 out of 10
Managed to drop the ball into his net under no pressure whatsoever. Wenger may have taken an unneccesary gamble promoting the keeper to his starting XI but he would hardly have expected such an abysmal response, though Ospina couldn’t have done much about the first.
2/11 Hector Bellerin: 6 out of 10
Salino struggled to keep up with the pacey Spaniard who attacked with verve when Oxlade-Chamberlain cut in. That thrust was allied with more dependable defending than a great many of his colleagues provided.
3/11 Gabriel: 5 out of 10
A foolish yellow card on the stroke of half-time left the Brazilian walking an unnecessary knife-edge in the second 45 minutes. His commitment and passion is all well and good, except playing at a constant boiling point tends to leave you in those situations too often.
4/11 Laurent Koscielny: 6 out of 10
On several occasions the defender was the last line between Arsenal’s porous midfield and Brown Ideye. His interceptions kept the hosts in the game throughout the first half.
5/11 Kieran Gibbs: 5 out of 10
Too often he and Alexis Sanchez seemed to be operating on entirely different wave lengths, with the reserve left-back earning a berating from his teammate for one particularly sloppy pass. He was also guilty of switching off for the visitor’s third.
6/11 Santi Cazorla: 5 out 10
His defensive deficiencies were on display for Olympiakos opening goal. Converted attacker or not he should have known to close down the opponent on the edge of the box. As a leader he was perhaps worse, remonstrating with the referee and letting the occasion get the better of him in a way that could have spread to his colleagues.
7/11 Francis Coquelin: 5 out 10
Played like a man rushed back from an injury, though of course Wenger had no choice. He struggled to stem the tide of runners from deep and could not keep up with the likes of Pardo. This was not Coquelin at his authoritative best and it was little wonder he was removed early.
8/11 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 5 out of 10
It turns out if you say a player has no confidence he will play as if that is the case. His running was as purposeful and direct as ever, but when opportunities came he seemed to lose faith in his abilities.
9/11 Mesut Ozil: 6 out of 10
On more than one occasion he pulled off the sort of beautiful pass only he is capable of, and his willingness to come deep helped Arsenal start many of their best counters. However in the second half he faded when faced with the massed ranks of Olympiakos defenders, struggling to conjure a way past.
10/11 Alexis Sanchez: 8 out of 10
On this kind of form you would expect him to dribble past every player on the pitch. Then go round them again just for fun. An irresistible performance from the Chilean, who on nights like tonight is simply a joy to behold.
11/11 Theo Walcott: 7 out of 10
With every passing game Walcott looks more and more a centre-forward. His runs are intelligent enough to find space and he is showing less of the profligacy that has dogged him in the past. He had one chance in the first half; he took it.
Uefa's points system, based over a five-year span, gives two points for a win and one for a draw, while those that reach the latter stages of the competition, or the latter stages of the Europa League, are also awarded an extra point for each round.
The poor performance of English clubs last season, where none of the quartet went further than the last-16, plus the strong performance of Juventus, who got to the Final, was a huge dent into the prospects of English teams.
Last season Italian clubs gained 5.42 more coefficient points for their performance compared to their English rivals, while a further 6.786 were gained by the Italians as the 2010-11 season was knocked off the ranking with that season's points no longer counting towards the total.
Heading into the start of this season Serie A clubs needed to gain just 4.179 points more than Premier League clubs to overtake and make that fourth spot theirs.
At the end of this season the Premier League will also lose the 3.893 point advantage from the 2011-12 season - leaving the gap at just 0.286 points.
Fortunately the English clubs have one significant advantage over the Italian teams - they have double the amount of chances to win points.
Italy's third club, Lazio, were knocked out at the final qualifying round and didn't enter the group stages, instead going into the Europa League, leaving only Juventus and Roma as Italian participants. England has four clubs in the Champions League but after a poor start there is much improvement needed to gain enough of a buffer over Serie A.
Also, Roma, who are in the same group as Barcelona, have started their campaign with just a point from their first two matches after a shock defeat at BATE Borisov on Tuesday night.
A repeat of last season would mean the fourth spot definitely goes to Serie A.
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