Arsenal and Chelsea prove that strength still lies in English football

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Two big matches for teams with qualification for the Champions League knockout stages at stake - and both duly delivered.

Arsenal winning 3-0 away to Olympiacos exceeded many pundits' expectations, with the manner of their performance emphatic. After taking the lead through Olivier Giroud's 29th minute header they never looked back, ensuring qualification as group runners up with a hat-trick for the Frenchman.

The last 16 draw on Monday may end this wave of optimism, but for now, the Gunners' brilliant performance should be the focus. Sharing a group with Bayern Munich meant this was always the likely outcome despite beating the Bavarians earlier in the group.


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Costa Rica international Joel Campbell stood out in what could be a defining performance for his Arsenal career. The very best players are able to perform when it really matters - something he certainly did, capping off a hard-fought night with a brilliant assist for Giroud's second and decisive goal.

Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey similarly shone, proving the Gunners' creative sparks and playing a role in each of the three goals.

Chelsea, meanwhile, also deserve credit for utterly dominating their match against Porto. With a draw enough to qualify, the hosts comfortably won 2-0 and performed like a side in need of a performance after their capitulation to Bournemouth on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho needed to win and will be pleased with the manner in which it was achieved. Diego Costa returned to the team and for the most part put controversy to one side and concentrated on playing football, to the relief of all neutrals.

John Terry's return coincided with an improved defensive display that will have no doubt delighted the Portuguese manager. Their clash with league leaders Leicester City on Monday will be a fascinating encounter.

After Manchester United spectacularly crashed out at the hands of Wolfsburg on Tuesday night, Arsenal and Chelsea, alongside Manchester City, eased any exaggerations that English football has fallen as far as some have suggested on the European stage.

Tougher tests are to come, but for now fans should enjoy the fact there will be three teams representing the Premier League in the knockout stages.

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