As Manchester City and Chelsea floundered, Manchester United and Arsenal proved to have enough to make it into the last 16 of the Champions League. But can how far can the two remaining English clubs go in their pursuit of European glory?
United are seeded as group winners having comfortably won Group H and they could afford to relax in their last two group games losing both. United have been involved in some entertaining games this season, but that has a lot to do with an extremely shaky defence. The game against Braga was a case in point, as they found themselves 2-0 down at home. But with players of the quality of Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney, plus super-sub Javier Hernandez, they were able to rescue the game and triumphed 3-2.
United will have no problems scoring against any opposition, but they will concede goals too if their defence does not improve. But with one of the most lethal strike partnerships in Europe in Rooney and RVP, they will feel they can progress to the quarter-finals at least and possibly the semi-finals if the draw is kind. As for overall victory though, they remain outsiders as long as their defence keeps leaking goals.
…an extremely difficulty patch…
Arsenal are going through an extremely difficulty patch. Though they are in the second round of the Champions League, they have faltered in the Premier League and suffered an embarrassing League Cup exit to Bradford. They qualified with a match to spare in Group B but failed to win the group as they lost to Olympiacos FC in their final fixture.
On current form, they are one of the weaker sides remaining in the Champions League and they will need an extremely kind draw to go further in the tournament and I think will struggle just to make the quarter-finals. They have been defensively shambolic at times this season and do not have the firepower up front that some of the other remaining teams have. They also have had rotten luck in the draws in recent times, frequently coming up against Barcelona.
The Gunners will be desperate to draw either Málaga FC or Paris Saint-Germain FC – possibly the weakest teams of the group winners but even so, both will pose tough challenges. With Arsene Wenger under pressure, the Gunners need a strong Champions League campaign. But if their current inconsistent form continues, they will struggle to make it through the round of 16.
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