It's easy to mock Arsenal for being happy with fourth, but Nick Miller says the enormous changes coming up at the top mean there is a genuine reason to celebrate...
Matt Stanger finds it impossible to believe that Roman Abramovich is content with the haphazard nature of Chelsea's European title victories in the last 12 months...
The debate goes on but the closest thing to a winter break the top flight has is the FA Cup third round, a chance to digest the festive excess just after the season's midpoint. This weekend the Premier League returns with a lot to live up to in the new year.
Even before Martin Tyler's throat explosion as Sergio Aguero seized the title for Manchester City, 2011-12 had been voted the Premier League's greatest season in its now respectable 20-year history. As if in a drama competition Chelsea did their best to match the paler blues, with their already remarkable Champions League run being capped off with Didier Drogba's unscriptable sign-off. This was just what was needed ahead of the selling of domestic TV rights from 2013-14 to 2015-16, which brought in just over £3bn, over £1.2bn more than the current deal.
It is no wonder that the latest Premier League TV deal brought in such astronomical numbers. Starting in August, BT will show two packages of matches; it was only EU rules that prevented Sky making a clean sweep of the current package, when the now deceased Setanta was awarded the set of games eventually ceded to ESPN in order to prevent a monopoly. Quite where ESPN go from here is unclear but having two major corporations in competition will benefit the Premier League in future rights auctions. Meanwhile, the overseas deals are also soaring; NBC has bought US rights - the Premier League may be a beneficiary of the MLS's efforts - and the international total is in excess of £2bn. The bonanza goes on.
Yet for all the undeniable drama, questions can be asked about the quality of the product. A Premier League club are European champions but Chelsea, along with Manchester City, failed to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League, with Aguero and friends not even getting the consolation prize of a Europa League place.
The big four created then maintained the Premier League's status as the top national competition in Europe in UEFA's five-year averages, but Spain kicked off this season with an advantage over the past four years that has thus far been extended. Bundesliga clubs, meanwhile, are pushing the Premier League into third in the current campaign. TV pundits concerned with accuracy (er...) will have to go back to just saying we have the most exciting league, and leave out the bit about "the best".
The rankings always lag by one year, so teams know how many places they are chasing at the start of a domestic campaign: on the access list for 2013-14 competitions we are still number one. Despite this season's failings English clubs have outperformed those of Serie A and Ligue 1, the divisions ranked fourth and fifth, so there is no remotely immediate threat to our numbers of entrants. But still...
Spain has shown, too, that UEFA are willing to back up financial fair play theory with practice; Malaga are in the last 16 of this season's Champions League but have been ruled ineligible for 2013-14. Michel Platini's determination may be tested should they win the damn thing at Wembley and Malaga are being punished for failing to pay off debts to players and tax authorities promptly rather than for having them in the first place. They are also a smaller club, with less clout or commercial value than England's leading debtors. Nonetheless, you imagine officials at certain clubs rehearsing anxiously exactly why their cases differed from that of the Costa del Sol club. The latest wrinkles in Chelsea's accounts make their claims to have broken even appear slightly arch, as would Pep Guardiola's mooted salary should he come, while there are grounds for anxiety at Eastlands, too.
The Premier League's standing could yet be lifted, not only by Manchester United and Arsenal but also with solid performances in the Europa League by Spurs, Liverpool, Newcastle and Chelsea. The new TV deals, meanwhile, give all clubs a golden chance to spend money not just on players but on placing their finances on a sound footing; it is absurd that anyone is in straitened circumstances when the game is living through such a boom.
Let's hope 2013 gives Martin Tyler plenty more to shout about.