There is an adage in soccer that you can only put 11 guys on the field at one time. Well what we’re seeing this year in the premier league is a tribute to that saying. There are many factors that contributed to why Southhampton is in 4th right now and United is in 9th outside the strength of schedule. There are also many reasons why there will still be a great amount of upsets this year but the top 4 will still end up being comprised of the top six teams in England (Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham).
The biggest contributor to this parity has been the sudden injection of money only into the Premier League. Of
course this is a great deal for everyone from Manchester United to Crystal Palace not just because of the extra pounds in their budgets, but also more worldwide recognition of the brand. The Premier League on NBC will also lead to the selling of more shirts since these teams are now reaching a new audience. This however means a team like Everton, who would usually field a few good players and have to patch up the rest, can now afford to go out and buy two or three more quality players. The same is true at the bottom of the table, which makes relegation bound teams more dangerous than before.
The reason these teams have been able to add quality to their side so easily this year is because this money wasn’t injected soccer wide. In American Football a TV deal like this would do nothing to interrupt the status quo because there is only one league in which to realistically to pull in talent. However, in Europe, several of the top leagues did not receive this input of capital. Essentially what NBC has done is increase the Purchasing Power Parity of all the clubs in the Premier League and economics tells us that traditionally that means more imports i.e. Players.
Thanks to these factors the small guys are able to put together a better starting 11 then previously. While the big clubs are forced to play with their line ups because of international call ups and European play, these lower clubs are allowed to keep their improved starting 11 intact adding to the chemistry between players. This negates the fact that the top 6 teams have deeper benches since you can only field 11 at a time.
This trend will not last though. The inflation of funds in the Premier League currently overwhelms what teams ask for players that transfer out of their clubs. However, this number will slowly rise as clubs figure out they can charge a premium to English clubs. Ironically this may add parity to the other leagues in Europe since now lower level teams in La Liga and Ligue 1 now have more money to play with. However, at least in England, this parity is short term and not the norm.