With Bayern continuing their domination of British clubs by thrashing Arsenal 5-1 on Wednesday evening, The Soccer Sofa examines the likelihood of any English team progressing into the depths of a European competition this season.
An embarrassment at the hands of German champions Bayern Munich have all but left the Gunner’s European aspirations in tatters. ‘Wenger out’ cries are ringing round the Emirates in louder choruses than ever before, and star men Ozil and Sanchez look as if they are looking through holiday brochures in their spare time.
Arsenal put in a solid first half display and equalised just before half time, which looked to have set up the tie nicely, but a dismal, lacklustre and lethargic second half display saw Thiago bag two as Bayern put all but their shoelaces into the Quarter Finals.
Ian Wright told the Radio 5live that the Premier League’s longest reigning manager’s tenure was drawing to a disappointing and subdued end. Wright said of Wenger: “He looks tired. You just feel that he looks winded. I feel that he will go at the end of the season.
“If he does leave at the end of the season, there will be a lot of changes. They should have a long, hard look at themselves. He has been so faithful to his team, it has been misplaced.”
One fan spoke of his frustration on Arsenal Fan TV, labelling the club’s current situation as ‘bleak and scary’. TSS tends to agree.
Bayern will progress even if Arsenal put together a good display at home, and Arsenal’s season is yet again leaving lots to be desired. Top 4 and FA Cup is all those loyal Gunners can hope for.
TSS Verdict: Last 16
Having drawn Monaco in the Last 16, Man City were lucky to escape a tricky tie after finishing second in their group behind Barcelona. They will expect to ease their way into the Quarter Finals, especially considering what good form they are in. Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling are in excellent form and having Yaya Touré back in their Champions League squad could prove important.
Former captain Richard Dunne spoke on TalkSport about City’s recent form: “They have gone on a little run now and they are picking up wins.
Dunne was unsure that their form would see them overtake Chelsea in the Premier League, but said: “it bodes well for the Champions League. They have started to defend really well.”
There will be goals in the tie considering Monaco have plenty of goals in them, but TSS thinks City’s midfield and exuberant strikeforce will be too much for them. Guardiola’s men will do well to progress to the semis with some of the teams that will be in next round’s draw, but it is not an impossible feat. Any further than that and they will need a few strokes of luck, which granted, they are due in Europe.
TSS Verdict: Semis
Mahrez, Vardy and co. are leagues away from the players they were last season. Their defensive stability was extremely important in seeing them progress through an extremely weak group. Huth and Morgan are horrifically out of form and TSS worries for their already dented confidence when they travel to Seville to play a team competing for La Liga against the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Sevilla sit third in their domestic table just three points off the top, whereas Leicester sit one point above the relegation zone in the Premier League. The board have publicly backed Ranieri but they should not be in the position they are in, but unfortunately the blame lies with the Italian.
So long as Sevilla are not complacent, which they won’t be, Leicester’s miserable season will continue.
TSS Verdict: Last 16
Pochettino will be hungry for European success seeing as Chelsea have run away with the Premier League, and they have an excellent chance of competing in the latter stages of the Europa League. Spurs compete in four games over the next eleven days but will be disappointed if they are not still competing in the Europa League, FA Cup and Premier League after next Sunday’s hosting of Stoke at White Hart Lane.
Spurs have struggled away from home of late and the Wembley pitch has not looked upon them favourably so far this season. Pochettino is excited to be competing in three competitions, however, and said: “Maybe we will make some changes, but not too many.
“It’s important to be focused on the (Gent) game. “If you are not ready to fight at that level, the first thing you need to show on the pitch is you are ready to fight and compete.”
Spurs’ young players will have their tails up for the Europa League and will be eager to prove themselves. In the latter stages, playing at Wembley is likely to push them to into top gear and they have the potential to go all the way.
TSS Verdict: Final
José’s early season antics have faded and United look like a force to be reckoned with. Zlatan is scoring, Mkhitaryan is looking like he is worth the money, there is competition for places in defence and midfield and De Gea is looking solid as ever.
Paul Pogba is set to face his brother when United line up against St Etienne of Ligue 1, but there is plenty of strength in depth at United, even if Mourinho decided to rest Pogba, which he won’t. Mourinho played a consistently strong team throughout the group stages but said: “The Europa League is not a competition we want to play but we play and respect it.
“We showed that in the group stage where we worked hard to progress, there was a moment where was hard for us because we lost two away matches.
United and Spurs could face teams such as Roma, who will want to give Totti a royal send-off, Zenit, Shakhtar and Borussia Monchengladbach, who gave Manchester City a real scare in the Champions League. On their day the Premier League duo could beat any of these sides, and so long as they don’t draw each other, the final in Stockholm could be an all-English affair.
TSS Verdict: Final