It would have come as a complete shock to everyone if a few months ago we were saying that Arsenal will be the only English team to have qualified for the knock out phase of the Champions League by tonight, but this is indeed the case, not only this but the Gunners have topped the group and avoided Barcelona in the next round.
Last night it was the turn of both Manchester clubs to fail to qualify, City were deafeated 2-1 by Napoli with Cavani and Lavezzi pulling the strings all night. Both players were allegedly linked with City in the Summer, along with every other great player in Europe. Cavani grabbed both goals sandwiching Balotelli’s equaliser on his return to Italy. However in truth City deserved to lose this one and in doing so have given themselves a very tricky task to make it through to the knockout phase, a win is not enough, they will be relying on results elsewhere.
The red side of Manchester have been playing second fiddle so far this season in the Premier League and with no Rooney or Hernandez, the mantle fell to Berbatov to prove that he still has what it takes to play at one of the biggest clubs in the world. He did indeed bag a goal for United, however he showed some signs of being rusty when it comes to playing at the highest level, trying to pick out passes when a shot would have been a better option, there is no doubt he is still class, but his playing time is surely going to be limited when you look at the options that Manchester United have up top.
Speaking of failures, Chelsea look like they are going to go another season without the trophy for Abramovich, a lot of the press are jumping on the bandwagon that the Russian
will show AVB the door, however surely not, he paid a fortune to get the young man to take the helm at the blues.. Saying that Ancelotti was given the boot after delivering a trophy, although not the only one it seems Roman is keen on winning. Drogba finished a tidy shot into the bottom corner to give Chelsea the lead in a game where Ballack was determined to get one over his old employers, and if it wasn’t for some misfortune and some inspired goalkeeping, this would have been the case. However Chelsea looked shaky at the back and were undone in the 73rd minute when Eren Derdiyok headed into an empty net. Bayer Leverkusen went on to grab the winner in the last minute to heap pressure on the Blues to qualify in the final game of the group stages.
Arsenal however kept the English flag flying in the Champions League (despite starting with 11 different nationalities on the pitch!). Robin Van Persie had a poor game… just kidding, he carried Arsenal to victory again with another 2 goal haul in the second half. The first half was pretty uneventful, the injuries to two key players for Dortmund (Sven Bender and the 19 year old hot prospect Gotze) forced some changes but the game failed to spark into life. The first of RVP’s goals in the 49th minute was all the making of Song, he bulldozed his way through countless challenges on the sideline and after a couple of quick feet, lifted the ball into the box for RVP to head home. This ignited the game and despite the phenonimal support from the Dortmund fans, the German’s could not find a way back into the game. Van Persie bundled home a flicked on corner to make it 2-0 before some cocking around at the back gifted the ball back to Dortmund and Kagawa slotted the ball past an absolutley furious Szczesny in the 90th minute as Arsenal fail to keep a clean sheet. Again.
Barcelona’s win against AC Milan was enough to see them top the group and avoid the Gunners this year. Much to the Arsenal fans’ relief!