The Twittersphere was alive last night with the scoreline London 2-0 Manchester, as both City and, more spectacularly, United failed to join Arsenal and Chelsea for the knockout stages of this season’s Champions League.
The response from dejected mancs has been that this scoreline is of little relevance; the red and blue halves of Manchester still make up the top two in the Premier League, and the Londoners don’t really have a chance of conquering Europe anyway.
I’m not from London so I’m not interested in London pride or anything like that, but I would suggest that our friends from up North wouldn’t be so quick to write either ourselves or Chelsea just yet.
After all, with a look at the competition, I’d argue that ahead of us are only super favourites Real Madrid and Barcelona, who would be the pick of the bunch even with United and City still in the competition. I can’t see too many other teams posing a real challenge for the trophy this year.
Of course there are AC Milan and Bayern Munich, who both have pedigry in this competition, but neither side are what they were and they play in lower quality, less competitive leagues.
Elsewhere, Napoli have obviously impressed and are blessed with some great attacking talent. They would be a stern test for Arsenal or Chelsea in the next round, but not an insurmountable one. Also from Serie A we have Inter Milan, who are struggling in 15th place in Italy and are being managed by Claudio Ranieri. Enough said?
It has to be said, though, that the two clubs from the capital are both in something of a transition just now, and a lot will depend on how they change things in January. The likes of Drogba, Anelka, Kalou and Alex are all likely to be leaving Stamford Bridge, while gooners will be hoping to see the likes of Chamakh and Arshavin traded in for more potent attacker to challenge Gervinho and Walcott and provide backup for van Persie. However the clubs spend their money in January will have a big say on their Champions League futures.
As they are now, both won harder groups than the one in which United finished 3rd, so should not be scoffed at. Arsenal in particular look more experienced and more solid than in any season in living memory, and I truly feel have the potential to cause a bit of a shock this year; questionable league form often seems to bring the best out of us in the welcome distraction of Europe.
Two major competitors are out of the way, that’s for sure.