Five of the big six return to Champion’s League action this week with all of them in a good position to qualify.

The only ones not in a good position to progress to the next phase of this season’s competition are Arsenal, mainly because they are not in it.

They are, however, in a good spot in the Europa League, a competition in which they find themselves competing for the first time in 137 years.

Had it been down to stubborn old man, of course, things would have been different somehow, but it wasn’t his fault. Due to circumstances entirely beyond his control, they failed to qualify for the Champion’s League and now find themselves in the B competition with a manager who doesn’t like it and will do his utmost to right this catastrophic wrong. Not only that but he has already proved his loyalty to the cause by awarding himself a new two year contract, much to the delight of all the Arsenal fans.

In the main competition, on Tuesday, Manchester United face Benfica having beaten them in Lisbon a fortnight ago courtesy of a young goalkeeper who is unlikely to make his second Champion’s League appearance in this match.

United have nine points from three games and should win this one which would make their lead unassailable and see them through very comfortably.

Just a note to José Mourinho, this is not a game to rest players. This is a game to make certain of qualification, then the resting can be done.

Chelsea travel to Rome for what will be a tougher game than United have. A win would almost certainly see Conte’s men qualify and a draw would keep the top two places between Chelsea and Roma so, win or draw and the remainder should be plain sailing.

Lose however, especially as Atlético Madrid are playing Qarabag, and the group would remain open for three teams to be in with a shout of qualifying.

Wednesday night sees Real Madrid travel to London to play Tottenham Hotspur.

Another draw at White Hart Wembley should see both teams consolidate their lead at the top but a defeat for either, coupled with a win for Borussia Dortmund, could make for an interesting last couple of games.

Liverpool, quite simply, need to win their tie. Playing at home against the minnows from Maribor against who they scored seven two weeks ago, they need a repeat performance. Even then, a win for either Spartak Moscow or Sevilla, who play each other in Spain, would keep things very interesting at the top. Liverpool will be hoping this game is drawn.

Manchester City, like United, only really need a point from their game away to Napoli on Wednesday. That would very likely see them safely through to the next round. However, also like United, three points would definitely get them over the line and allow them to coast for the rest of this phase of the competition.

So the wise approach from the Manchester clubs would be to go for it in an attempt to finalise qualification.

Liverpool need to go for it to keep a slight lead at the top.

Chelsea need a win or a draw and are capable of either, so they should also be favourites for qualification, whilst Tottenham Hotspur are in a very similar position.

By the end of play on Wednesday night, we should be able to say that three of the five have definitely qualified for the next round whilst the other two are still in an excellent position to do so.

Finally, back to stubborn old man, who should be able to celebrate reaching the knockout stage of the Europa League when his team, after struggling through the opening half of the match, finally see off Crvena Zvezda, which is almost as difficult to write as it is to say.

He will then go about engineering a timely exit from a competition he has made impossible for his team to win by spouting his idiotic opinion that a team who wins this league doesn’t deserve to gain promotion. Either that, or he will turn it down. We may be about to find out just how honourable stubborn old man really is!


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