It’s been a tough couple of months for English football fans on the continent. We’re just two match-days into the group stages and already it’s looking like there could be some disappointing early exits: Arsenal have managed to lose both their games so far; Manchester City and Chelsea are sitting in third place in their respective groups, whilst Manchester City have just three points.
Why are English teams finding it so difficult to translate their success at home onto the continent – isn’t the Premier League supposed to be the best in the world? Past reputations seem to be counting for nothing at the moment. Here are my thoughts on what’s holding each team back.
Arsenal Weak at The Back
After two embarrassing defeats – most recently 3-2 at home to Olympiacos – Arsenal won’t be feeling confident about their chances of qualifying. Olympiacos were a crucial win for them, and apparently a sure thing going by what the bookies were saying. Instead, Ospina failed to keep Arsenal secure at the back. This meant that although the defense conceded relatively few chances, they were hit hard when they did, plus the attack’s lack of confidence meant they never really got a foothold in the match.
Arsene Wenger’s men are now stuck with the almost unsurmountable task of qualifying for the final 16. Although it is possible, mathematically – with four games to go Arsenal can pick up a total of 12 points –in actuality the prospect seems very dim. Only one team in EUFA history (Panthinaikos) have ever managed to win their group after losing their first two. Plus, Bayern are up next…
Manchester City Nervous Under Pressure
City lost their first game of the tournament 2-1 to Juventus (where they were most definitely outplayed), but just managed to take the three points from the Germans, Borussia Monchengladbach. They looked anything but Champions League winners though: a late penalty was the only difference between the teams. Joe Hart even conceded: “We didn’t play well. We were really disjointed and have been in the last couple of games in the Premier League that we’ve lost.”
Sevilla are the next fixture, and although the Spanish side may be the underdogs, they have shown great strength so far this competition. City simply must win and so all the pressure will be on them. Are their players up to it? Recent games against Tottenham and West Ham perhaps suggest not.
Chelsea Lacking Leadership
Jose Mourinho’s latest loss to his former club, Porto, dealt a crushing blow to a manager already in turmoil over his club’s Premier League woes. No one can quite grasp why Chelsea are having such a hard time early in the season. Some see a lack of leadership on the pitch, others see a lack of confidence on the bench. Whatever it is, Chelsea now have a huge mountain to climb if they want to get back into both English and European Leagues.
Chelsea play Dynamo Kiev in their next game and are the favourites to win, but as the losses continue to tally up across leagues, one has to wonder the toll it’s taking on a team unused to such trying times.
Manchester United Tired?
Manchester City’s rival have also found it tough to get off the mark this competition. Although the latest home win against Wolfsburg got them the three points they badly needed, United did not look like a team inspired; they also had to come from behind, and only just managed to hang on towards the end.
Louis van Gaal knows his side needs to improve, but has claimed his players were simply suffering from fatigue at that match (it was their sixth in 18 days, after all). However, since then they already suffered a crushing defeat at Arsenal in the Premier, and still have Watford to face before their showdown against CSKA Moscow on 21st October. Are they going to be fully rested by the time Russia comes around? Please leave thoughts below!
Featured image: All rights reserved by unitednewsclub[s[separator type=”thin”]p>Luke Rees is the original author of this piece. He is a sports writer and Spurs supporter from London who also plays for a Sunday League. He likes to cover the bookies and makes predictions for upcoming games.
[s[separator type=”thin”] href="http://bit.ly/1CSHHj7">
75% OFF SALE ends Monday at @CampoRetro! They are also giving away a cracking prize! Go check them out here!