Friday, February 21, 2014
Nothing (and everything) to lose for Arsenal and Manchester City
Arsenal and Manchester City both lost 2-0 in the Champions League this week in spookily similar games - a good first half, man sent off, late goal etc. There's no shame in losing to Bayern Munich or Barcelona, and in some ways it may help Arsenal and City.
They now have nothing to lose in the away legs - win and it's a famous success against all the odds. Lose and you can focus on the league. City are still in both cups, but Arsenal would only have the title to play for, and with their thin squad, it may help.
Chelsea have a slightly easier tie against Galatasary, and Jose Mourinho will seems to have a knack of getting it done in the Champions League. He'd love to win it with Chelsea - mainly as it hurt him to see Roberto Di Matteo win something at Chelsea before he did. Jose is petty like that, we all know he is. He couldn't congratulate Rafa Benitez for winning the Europa League, even though he knows deep down that Rafa did well.
And so this weekend in the Premier League may give us an indication of how teams will react after tough results in Europe. The Europa League may prove damaging for Spurs (in trying to make 4th), but more for Swansea (in the relegation scrap). Europe can be too much for smaller teams, it just stretches the squad to breaking point.
But for Arsenal and City, home games against Sunderland and Stoke are must wins. Lose at this stage and the season begins to unravel. Win and they can really focus on topping the table. For Arsenal more that City, a loss at this stage would be a disaster - and potentially kill the tiny bit of confidence they have left.