Champions League Review
With a bit of a break in the Champions League schedule, I thought it would be good to take a look at how the English sides are fairing in this years competition. With just 2 games left in the group stages all 4 of our teams are well placed to make it through to the knockout stages, but just how far can they go?
Chelsea – The Blues sit top of their group with 4 wins out of 4 so far, and are 1 of only 3 teams to have already qualified for the knockout stages. They have looked ruthless in attack and solid in defence in all 4 games so far, scoring 12 and only conceding 2 goals. Having already been to Zilina & Moscow; two long, cold and potentially difficult away ties, Chelsea have come this far unscathed and I wouldn’t put it past them to finish the group stages with maximum points. I really believe this could be the year that they go all the way, and what an achievement that would be for Ancelloti and his troops; a feat that ‘The Special One’ – Jose Mourinho couldn’t manage.
Manchester United – United go in to the last 2 group games needing just a point to ensure qualification to the knockout phase. Sitting pretty with a 3 point gap at the top of their group United are yet to concede a goal in this years competition, but with only 5 goals in 4 games, their strike force without the injured Wayne Rooney could well be their downfall this year. United have been surprisingly unconvincing at home so far; with a disappointing stalemate against neighbours Rangers and a lacklustre 1-0 victory at home against Bursaspor to date. Despite the emergence of Javier Hernandez Alex Ferguson doesn’t have the strength in depth in his squad this year to compete in the latter stages of the competition in my opinion and I think a disappointing exit in the early knockout stages is likely.
Arsenal – This years top scorers in the competition with 15 goals; The Gunners are joint top of Group H with Shakhtar Donetsk on 9 points and look healthily placed to qualify. Looking dominant as ever at home qualification to the knockout phase looks assured, with their final home game coming against whipping boys Partizan Belgrade. However it’s away from home where Arsenal look slightly suspect, as their 2-1 defeat in the Ukraine last time out illustrated. With players such as Walcott & Van Persie now back from injury, Arsenal could be a force to be reckoned with in this year’s competition. They are more than capable of beating anyone at home, but it’s away from The Emirates where they sometimes struggle and what could possibly stop them from going all the way.
Tottenham Hotspur – The surprise package in this year’s competition comes in the form of Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham, who currently sit top of their group; which includes reigning champions Inter Milan. A resounding 3-1 win at home against Inter has really signalled Spurs intentions that they aren’t here just to make up numbers – they want to see how far they can go in the competition! Undoubtedly the highlight of the competition for Spurs though is the form of Gareth Bale, who has really stepped up his game on the biggest stage in club football. After seeing 2 very credible performances away from home and a thumping 4-1 home victory over Dutch champions FC Twente, Spurs are looking good for qualification from a very tough group. Just how far can they go in the competition though? Your guess is as good as mine!
You can check out the latest Champions League Shirts here, which one of the teams will be lifting the trophy come May though? We shall see!