The Champions League group stages have reached their half way point and next week will see Europe's leading clubs take a huge step towards qualification for the next round, a Europa League consolation prize or straight up elimination from all European competition.
Four Premier League clubs are currently attempting to work their way into the round of 16 draw in January and here we take a look to at how they have got on so far - not to mention how successful we think they will be.
Here are the verdicts...
Anybody in football will understand Chelsea’s dominance this season. To an extent they have carried this form into Europe. Their crushing 6-0 victory over Maribor showed a gulf in class, which is rarely seen at this level.
Equally impressive was their taking three points in Lisbon on matchday two. Yet, the Blues have shown they are just as capable of producing dubious results in this competition - the rather bland stalemate with Schalke 04 springs to mind.
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These results can have deadly consequences. An equally drab 1-1 draw with Rosenberg saw the end of Jose Mourinho’s first spell in charge in 2007. History seems to be on Chelsea’s side though as they always seem to produce results when needed.
An absence of five years from Europe’s elite competition is evident, as the Reds’ attempts to play their free flowing football are hitting a brick wall; it is not for the want of trying, however.
Against Real Madrid they were genuinely beaten by an exceptional side that happened to contain Cristiano Ronaldo. Against any other team, a performance like this would have yielded some fruit. Unfortunately for Liverpool, results like this make their other matches vitally important.
A laboured victory over debutantes’ Ludogorets and a defeat in Switzerland against Basel shows that the Champions League may have come slightly early for Brendan Rodgers’ men.
Three words can be used to describe the Gunners’ exploits: hot, cold and lukewarm. Against Borussia Dortmund, they were outplayed and lacked any kind of imagination; against Galatasaray, their play was swift, free-flowing and lethal.
Anderlecht, on paper, seemed a straightforward assignment, yet it was only a late two-goal rally that got Arsene Wenger’s team out of jail. The latter of these results in particular shows the inconsistency that could halt Arsenal’s Champions League ambitions.
This said, inconsistencies took Chelsea all the way to the crown in 2012. Arsenal still have the experience of this level to allow fans to dream of lightning striking twice.
They have one of the most envied squads in world football, a manager with oodles of European experience and came into the tournament as Premier League champions. Despite this, City still seem to lack confidence.
Their performances have been distinctly ordinary in a group containing teams against whom that little something extra is required. They managed to contain Bayern Munich in their first encounter, yet never really threatened the Bayern goal.
Their other two encounters have produced two draws. Hardly results to set the world alight. Perhaps confidence will come with experience and if you told any City fan that they would be dining at Europe’s top table five years ago, they would have probably laughed at you.
For all we can look at these clubs’ feats, we have to remember that they are facing the best opposition on the continent. Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona, among others, still remain as deadly as ever. Now, more than ever, it will take a lot to stop them.
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