Mixed Fortunes For The English Clubs In Europe As They Prepare To Return To Premier League Duty

Posted: November 23, 2017 in Arsenal, Champions League, Chelsea, Europa League, European Football, Football, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion, Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur
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Wednesday night went off with a bit of a whimper in the Champion’s League. Over in Azerbaijan, Chelsea did what was expected of them by comfortably beating Qarabag by four goals to nil.

This stroll in the park meant that Antonio Conte could spend the overnight flight home plotting Liverpool’s downfall in the weekend’s “big” game.

This exercise probably only required about five minutes as the tactics are relatively straightforward. Providing you can stop Liverpool scoring at your end, they will likely allow you to score some at their end!

So he had a good sleep for the rest of the flight dreaming, no doubt, of reaching the Champion’s League final and beating Juventus to collect the trophy. Dream on, Antonio!

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Manchester United, on the other hand, decided to take their stroll in the park during the second half of their game against Basel.

The problem here was that the score was 0-0 at the time and Basel chose not to accompany them on their stroll, choosing instead to try and win the game which, thanks to an 89th minute goal which owed much to woeful defending on United’s part, they did.

José Mourinho was only half right in his after-match comments when he said, “We lost because, in the first half, we should have been 5-0 ahead and we couldn’t score one goal after being so dominant. For many periods of the first half it seemed impossible not to win.

He forgets that there are two halves to a game of football and that United didn’t bother attending the second one. Had they put their trials and tribulations of the first half behind them and gone out to win the second half, then they probably would have done so.

As it turned out, they lost the game because they didn’t manage to score ONE goal, never mind five, but their opponents did. It was as much about what they didn’t do in the second half as it was about what they didn’t do in the first!

Anyway, they will still qualify providing they can prevent CSKA Moscow scoring seven or more goals against them when they meet for the final group game at Old Trafford in a fortnight, so it is all, hopefully, much ado about nothing as Craig William Shakespeare would say.

Congratulations, therefore, must go to all the English teams who have qualified for the knockout stages of this year’s competition which is, believe it or not, all of them, (yes folks, even Liverpool will qualify providing they don’t lose at home to Spartak Moscow. Here’s what needs to happen).

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Meanwhile, in the parallel but slightly lower universe that is Big Vase, stubborn old man takes his Arsenal team to the RheinEnergieStadion where they will play Cologne, knowing that a win will secure them top spot in the group.

It would appear that Arsenal have finally found their level in Europe having spent twenty years qualifying for, and failing to win, Big Cup. In fact, in all that time, they only reached ONE final, which of course, in true Arsenal fashion, they lost.

Their success in Europe’s “second division” goes some way to explaining their manager’s view that winning this competition should not carry promotion to the first division, (Champion’s League), although quite why winning the second division shouldn’t be rewarded with promotion to the first is beyond this mere mortal’s ken. Maybe Arséne will be kind enough to explain it to us one day!

His record in that competition, as we have said, is pretty abysmal so it is understandable that he would rather stay in the Europa League next season than get knocked out of the Champion’s League by Bayern Münich!

We here at WSA actually want Arsenal to win the tournament just to see how stubborn old man worms his way out of playing in Big Cup next season. Perhaps he will resign in protest at UEFA not changing the rules to suit him! That WOULD suit the majority of Arsenal fans who would like to see a new man in charge sooner than later.

Finally, good luck to Everton. They won’t be playing any form of European football next season unless they win a domestic cup.

They don’t have a manager and don’t appear to be doing much to get one either. David Unsworth is a nice man who talks a good game but is just treading water with this team and, given the amount of money that has been spent, Everton now need a top class manager at the level of Carlo Ancelotti or Diego Simeone.

They don’t, however, appear to have either the belief or the ambition to go for one of these. Time will tell.

 

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