Not performing or not bothered? Why are Premier League teams flopping in Europe?

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So with one group game remaining in this season’s Champions League and what odds would you have that only one English team was guaranteed to qualify to the knock out stages. Given that Man City, Man United and Chelsea are the three struggling who would of said that Arsenal would be leading the European charge.

It is a sign of how things can turn around during the course of the season. Back when Man United beat Arsenal 8-2, United had a fit squad competing for selection and everyone was playing with confidence. Arsenal didn’t know who was staying or going and pretty much sent out a sacrificial team at Old Trafford. Not that those lambs showed themselves up despite the score. Had situations at key moments been different and so could the outcome.

Fast forward to this week and United look a team generally needing ideas an inspiration. Who would of thought Tom Cleverley would turn out to be such a miss for them this season. Meanwhile at Arsenal somehow Arsene Wenger has managed to jump start Robin Van Persie. There will be questions over his fitness for the course of a season but the more matches he plays will see those comments disappear. Yes Wenger needs an old professional striker around the club. One that knows he won’t start to many matches but one that is ready to come off the bench when necessary. Apart from Van Persie there is nobody a Arsenal to do that.

Over at Man City the money men are coming to terms with some harsh lessons. First money can’t make you young German defender happy or want to stay. Second money can’t keep a world class player like Carlos Tevez happy to be on the bench of a team he was captaining last season.

Thirdly that money can’t make your young Italian striker play with a smile nor can money guarantee international recognition for all your young English defenders. Fourth money can’t do a thing if your player gets a long term injury. All lesson that Chelsea have learnt over the last few seasons.

Even spending £50m on Fernando Torres hasn’t brought Chelsea any closer to the holy grail of the European Cup. You might argue they are further away now than ever before. Well this season is beyond them. Providing all 4 English clubs get through to the knockout stage it doesn’t prove that the Premier League necessarily the best any more. It may well be the most competitive but there are at least teams with genuine chances of winning this years trophy and the English clubs are a mere afterthought.

Defending Champions Barcelona are on a mission to become the first team to defend their title since the inception of the Champions League. Domestic rivals Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo will have something to say about that and are not to be written off. The other team that I think will sneak into the latter stages unfancied is Bayern Munich. They were my tip before the competition kicked off and have made a potentially difficult group look easy. Remember they faced Man City, Napoli and Villareal. They are one of those teams you want to avoid for as long as possible.

If the English sides can successfully negotiate their way into the knockout rounds they will fancy their chances. One final thought that will be giving United, City and Chelsea fans sleepless nights. All 3 can still finish in the Europa League. How those three teams would swap for Arsenal’s position now.

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  • Gaz The Haz says:

    “How those three teams would swap for Arsenal’s position now.”

    How Arsenal would swap positions with Man City in the league ? It’s a Learning curve for us in the CL this season. We look good to qualify for it again next season. We need 12 more wins to be over 70 points….26 games to play ..nothing guaranteed of course but I’d take a good run at the title over qualification from the CL with the guaranteed banker of getting Barca or Real Madrid which I’m sure would be “arranged” for the “petrol-dollar upstarts from Manchester”

  • Wes says:

    I agree currently Arsenal would swap with City’s league position but I sense many City fans becoming disillusioned with the amount of money they have. They will of course qualify for next season’s Champions League but as for winning the league we will have to make intelligent statements come 1st February once City have spent another £100 million and both Manchester clubs have gone through their respective tricky fixtures. Liverpool isn’t a gimme for City nor is Chelsea a week after neither is the League Cup tie with Arsenal sandwiched in between. No matter how bravado the most staunch City fan, none with a degree of common sense would say they would rather have a stab at domestic success than European glory. Try telling Chelsea fans that. Maybe it will be good for City to qualify and draw Barcelona so they can be shown where they truly do lie.

  • Falastur says:

    Try leaving the speaking for City fans to actual City fans, Wes. For sure there are some of us who are getting carried away with our (still somewhat minor) success – FYI, “disillusioned”? We’re not sick of the money we have at all, thank you 🙂 – but the vast majority of us knew that we had no chance at the Champions League. It’s only our second year in the CL (1968-69, before you ask) and our first in forty years. Why would we think we had a genuine chance? On the contrary, we know how to play against the Premier League teams, and have advantages over them that we don’t have in Europe. Give me the PL and a humiliating CL defeat any day over a struggling fight through the CL to fall at, say, the semi-final and then finish in the Europa slots. In fact I’d happily have taken a 10-0 defeat in every group stage game if we could win the league title. And when (not if) we get knocked out last week, at least we can say that we fought and lost in the hardest group of the competition.

  • Wes says:

    wasn’t aware of a Champions League during the 60’s. Seems to me to many City fans think vast amounts of money is an instant success. Ask Chelsea if domestic glory is the same as European pedigree. And if City were treating it as a learning curve shouldn’t all those fans that actually went to the away matches get some money back. They didn’t know the team wasn’t really trying. Would also like to hear the excuses if or when City finish the season trophyless. Nothing is won in December and just the next 4 City games alone are 4 mini cup finals. 6 points, a carling Cup semi final place and Champions League knock out football isn’t a guarantee no matter how many millions your account reads.

  • David Dougan says:

    Manchester City were given an extremely difficult group. They are lucky, in a sense, that Villareal have been poor, because Napoli and Bayern Munich were always going to be difficult opponents. Bayern might actually be one of the best teams in the competition this year.

    Sir Alex keeps resting too many players for Champions League ties, and they were lucky to get points against Basel and Benfica at Old Trafford.

    Chelsea are just a mess at the moment. AVB doesn’t seem to be in control and is stuck between making a new Chelsea and sticking with the oldboys.

  • Dave Highbury says:

    Right now as an Arsenal fan I am 100% loving watching us play! I haven’t been this buzzed for a while.

  • wes says:

    Have to repeat my pretournament tip was Bayern Munich. Was laughed out the building but they do look a strong side. City should have been beating Napoli as well as Villareal and the excuse of first time is only surfacing as there is a chance they won’t qualify.
    If Fergie cn keep Rooney fit for Basle then United should be OK but winning the group is going to take a favour from Benfica capitulating.
    Chelsea have lost their fear factor and an ageing squad is struggling with a collective yard of pace.
    Before September I wrote off Arsenal’s chances and things looked bleak. How they have turned it around. A good time to be a Gooner. Shame I’m not.

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