Manchester United And Chelsea Return To Champions League Action After A Short Break, Arsenal Don’t

Posted: September 13, 2017 in Arsenal, Champions League, Chelsea, Football, Manchester United, Opinion
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After a season whereby Chelsea chose to concentrate on winning the Premier League and Manchester United on winning the Europa League, Arsenal chose to win the FA Cup and Arséne Wenger, much to the irritation of almost every Arsenal fan, chose to stay on as manager for a further two years.

This choice is purely selfish as Wenger just doesn’t know what he is going to do when he retires and has already said as much when commenting on Lord Ferg’s retirement.

So to satisfy his thirst for work, thousands of Arsenal supporters will now have to suffer a couple of trophy-less, barren seasons with not even Champions League games as a distraction to losing at Stoke in the Premier League.

But that, as they say, is their problem.

The real teams with the real managers are in action on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, not Thursdays and the first two came up against Basel and Qarabag respectively.

Manchester United v FC Basel

Manchester United beat FC Basel at Old Trafford even without the suspended Eric Bailly and Phil Jones, neither of whom played well against Stoke at the weekend.

The downside to their replacements was that one of them was Chris Smalling, a player we have long thought not to be good enough for United. The hope for the game tonight was that he wouldn’t keep getting caught out of position, wouldn’t keep giving the ball away, wouldn’t give away many cheap free-kicks or penalties and wouldn’t get sent off.

Asking him to even remember this list, let alone adhere to it’s instructions, was always liable to give him a migraine and the hope was that Victor Lindelof would play well enough for the two of them.

As it turned out there was little, if any, defending to be done.

In a further attempt to demonstrate to the watching world how big and versatile this Manchester United squad is José decided that another couple of changes were in order.

On either side of the new centre back pairing Antonio “best wing back in the world” Valencia, who can’t defend to save his life was replaced by another right winger who can’t defend to save his life in Ashley Young and Matteo Darmian an Italian international right back who Mourinho sees fit to play on the left was replaced by a defensive midfielder who is left footed at least! So there was nothing to worry about with the defence then!

There were no problems with either the midfield or the attack and United, even with these imposters at the back, had enough to overcome Basel, thanks to a first half Fellaini goal followed by second half goals from Lukaku and Rashford.

The only downside was an injury to Paul Pogba who limped off with what appeared to be a pulled hamstring early in the first half.

Chelsea v Qarabag

Chelsea took on Qarabag who, according to Google, are a team from Agdam in Azerbaijan. The biggest problem we could see for Chelsea in this tie would be finding their way to Agdam for the away trip!

Álvaro Morata was given a rest because the poor, exhausted wretch had already played three games this season, and in just four weeks!

Eden Hazard started from the bench as Antonio Conte didn’t feel the need to risk him against this opposition unless things were to go seriously pear-shaped, which they didn’t. As things turned out Hazard got to stretch his legs late in the game in an easy win for the Blues.

Pedro and Zappacosta scored in the first half to make for a reasonably comfortable second half.

The reasonably comfortable second half became positvely laid back with further goals from Azpilicueta, Bakayoko, Batshuayi and an own goal from Medvedev to give Antonio Conte an extremely easy night’s work on his return to the Champions League.

It makes one wonder if they really needed to buy Morata in the first place!

So a good night was had by the two English clubs although the same couldn’t be said for the Scottish club as Celtic were hammered by PSG 0-5 so the least said about that the better.

Tomorrow night sees the other English clubs begin their campaigns with Liverpool and Tottenham at home to Sevilla and Borussia Dortmund respectively and Manchester City in Holland to play Feyenoord, so more positive results are expected from all three!

PS – If you have time take a look at these football blog sites. They are the top 100 as judged by Feedspot and are well worth a visit.

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