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.
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 coefficient points for their performance compared to their English rivals, while a further 6.786 were gained as the 2010-11 season was knocked off the ranking - heading into the start of the season Serie A clubs needed to gain just 4.179 points to overtake.
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.
A repeat of last season would mean the fourth spot definitely goes to Serie A.
Independent News Service