Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City And Leicester Return To European Action

Posted: February 16, 2017 in Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, Champions League, Chelsea, Europa League, European Football, Jose Mourinho, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion, Pep Guardiola, Tottenham Hotspur
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Well folks, it’s that time of the year again! European competition has returned with the start of the knockout stages of both the Champion’s League and the Europa League.

This article was supposed to be a preview of the two tournaments BEFORE any of the games had been played but, thanks to missed deadlines due to oversleeping, is now published after the first round of them has finished.

Fortunately only Arsenal, out of the English contingent, have played their first leg game and everybody knew what was going to happen before a ball was even kicked. It’s the time of year when the Gunners press the self-destruct button and they did so this time just as emphatically as they did last year, by losing 5-1 to Bayern Münich. No surprise there then! On a positive note, Wenger finally managed to get his team playing like Barcelona, who lost 4-0 the previous night!

It’s nights like this that make people appreciate why players would rather go to Manchester United and not have Champion’s League football than go to Arsenal to be humiliated in the competition.

Talking of Manchester United, they are in action tonight against Saint Etienne who currently sit fifth in a weak French league. At Old Trafford United will be expected to build up a decent lead to take to France for the second leg and a two or three goal margin of victory should not be beyond them. However, given their lack of goals this season, don’t be too surprised if a 1-0 win is all they can muster.

Tottenham have an attitude problem in Europe. The players didn’t seem to think that they were good enough to compete at Champion’s League level, so they didn’t. Now, in the Europa League, despite having a squad good enough to win the competition, they will probably struggle, even against Gent. A draw away and a narrow win at home should see them through to the next round though.

Next week, Manchester City face Monaco who are currently three points clear at the top of the previously mentioned weak French league. The difference in quality between the two leagues should be evident in these two games but they will still be quite close due to the stage and stature of the competition. City should edge this over the two legs. Again we expect a win at home and a draw away.

After this next round of the Champion’s League, Leicester City will probably be able to concentrate on Premier League survival and having a run in the FA Cup. Normal service will be completely resumed once Sevilla beat them, which they will do, over the two legs.

So what happened to the English domination of the Champion’s League we keep hearing about, and when exactly was that? We here at WSA can remember Manchester United beating Chelsea in a penalty shoot-out in 2008. Chelsea, with unbelievable luck in beating Barcelona and then Bayern Munich, also in a penalty shoot-out, then won the competition in 2012.

Consequently, since Manchester United beat Bayern Münich in 1999, English clubs have won the competition twice! In eighteen years! During that same period Barcelona and Real Madrid have won it four times each and Bayern Munich have won it twice! Where’s the English dominance in that?

The English do try to put a positive spin on everything. They may have good reason to do so this year now that Barcelona are no longer in the field. There is certainly nobody left to fear in the competition as both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are inconsistent so catching either of them on a bad day is a real possibility.

Good luck to them all and let’s have English winners of both tournaments at the end of the season.

(UPDATE: As most of you will by now be aware WSA was remarkably accurate with it’s forecasts for tonight’s games. Although Tottenham didn’t manage a draw they did struggle to a 1-0 defeat and Manchester United did get the three goal cushion they would have wanted before the game).

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