Why Arsenal and Manchester United Must Advance in the UEFA Champions League

For a good part of the last ten years, the Premier League ruled the roost when it came to the debate of “Which is the best league in the world?” With the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea each making deep runs in the Champions League, there was just no comparison. But with the recent resurgence from Bayern Munich (Bundesliga), Inter and Milan (Serie A) and Real Madrid and Barcelona (La Liga), the balance of power has been more or less restored.

And despite Chelsea taking the European glory last season, many still feel that was more of a fluke than a sign of the Premier League being revitalized. Their Champions League triumph had more of the same feel of when the Houston Rockets won consecutive NBA titles in the mid 90’s; with a big asterisk.

“Yes, Houston you won, but that’s because Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls) was retired.”

“Yes, Chelsea you won, but that’s because you parked your entire team inside the penalty box against Barcelona. You won because you didn’t play football.”

That’s the sentiment I’m sensing from fans across the globe. Barcelona’s semifinal defeat was more a fluke than it was a sign of things to come. We have seen Lionel Messi go on his record breaking goal scoring run (92 in all competitions for 2012), helping his team build a commanding 11 point lead in La Liga. To make matters worse, we have seen champion holders Chelsea crash out of the group stage of the Champions League and Premier League champions Manchester City bow out without registering a single win in group play.

Manchester United and Arsenal are the only two EPL clubs left standing and both face stiff competition against defending La Liga champions Real Madrid and Champions League finalist Bayern Munich respectively. It would not be a shock to the football world should both English clubs be knocked out. But to start the restoration that the EPL is the best league in the world, both United and Arsenal need to make another deep run in the Champions League, especially United since they are currently in first place.

Only a deep run this year will give EPL fans a foundation for defending their league as the best. It won’t bring back it’s glory days of 07-08, 08-09 but it can stop the rumblings that the EPL is on its way down… at least for now.

41 thoughts on “Why Arsenal and Manchester United Must Advance in the UEFA Champions League”

    1. I’m only relaying the sentiments of the football fans I’ve conversed with. There is an art to what Chelsea did and I have no intentions of taking that away. But comparatively there are more fans that loathed the way Chelsea played those games than those who appreciated it.

    2. Chelsea’s win struck a big knife into the hearts of many EPL talk writers. Just look up articles under the tag of #chelsea. Farcelona’s bribe to UEFA board could only get them so far.

  1. So Houston should give up those titles? Chelsea should apologize for beating Barcelona over two legs? The logic at play here is baffling.

    Bayern Munich have lost consecutive European Cup finals, should that count against the Bundesliga? Madrid haven’t made a final in almost a decade, both Milan teams are not factors at all.

    Chelsea winning the European Cup has an impact on only two teams: Chelsea & Spurs. Which the author failed to point out.

    1. No one said anything about giving back titles or apologizing. But try talking to NBA fans (outside of Houston) about those two titles they won in the 90’s. Majority will say they got lucky because Jordan was in retirement. Is that legitimate? Probably not. But that is the overall consensus of how people feel and I’ve noticed the same with Chelsea’s Champions League triumph last year.

      Again, not saying that is accurate or what I believe, but how do you converse with others about which league is better when people disagree with how Chelsea won last year? I say start by having more teams make deep runs into the Champions League. Nobody debated EPL was the best when they had three teams in the semi-finals a few years back. Now it’s all up for debate. Put more teams in the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the rest sorts itself out.

      1. Rockets were lucky b/c they were better than everyone who was in the NBA during 94 & 95. Not because Michael Jordan was playing baseball.

        Best league in the world talk is banter and is totally subjective regardless of who makes semi-finals or finals.

        I can name a lot of teams who’d like to be derided for how they WON the European Cup.

        1. Chelsea have been to the Semi-finals of the Champions league in 04, 05,07, 09 as well in the finals in 08 ( United was lucky to win ) so the thought that Chelsea came from no where to win the Champions League is ridiculous.

  2. I think you have it backwards its Real Madrid that NEED to make it through to the next round not Man United.

    This season was always going to be about winning the league again anything after that is just a bonus. Nobody was expecting us to win the champions league at the start of the season so if we go out this round we just concentrate on winning another double. If we beat Real Madrid the season for them is effectively over.

    1. I agree. Real Madrid have basically no shot at winning La Liga this season. Winning the Champions League is the main goal for Real Madrid now. Failing to make it out of the Round of 16 would be devastating. If that happens, Real Madrid would not win a major trophy this season.

      For Manchester United, being knocked out would be disappointing, but they will still be in the drivers seat to win a major trophy, the Premier League.

    2. You’re talking based on what each individual team needs, not on what the league needs. United are 12 points clear at the top of the table and Real Madrid are 16 points off and are having an off year. I can’t see conversations going well for English clubs (in regards to which league is better) should United get knocked out.

      1. League needs are a matter of personal opinions. Team needs are what matters. This season, Manchester United’s main goal is to win back the Premier League title. For Real Madrid, their goal is winning the Champions League. The debate of which league is the best doesn’t matter to individual clubs.

  3. This post is ridiculous on a myriad of levels.

    1) People who think Chelsea don’t deserve the title from last year conveniently discount the importance of defending in football. Chelsea was on 10 men in that second leg. What were they supposed to do? Stretch the field down a man? Please

    2) I agree with MUFC77. As a Manchester United fan, this season was all about reclaiming the league. Of course I want to beat Madrid, but it certainly isn’t the be all and end all.

    3) Anyone hoping for Arsenal to even compete with Bayern is clinging to false hope. This could be the most lopsided tie in the knockout round of this year’s competition.

    1. I actually think Arsenal are more than capable of beating Bayern. At this point of the season form doesn’t really count for much especially in a cup competition. All the teams in the last 16 can get a good result on any given day.

      Arsenal are a seasoned champions league team who could easily score 2-3 goals at the emirates, they could also concede 3-4 as well but to say they have no chance is a but much.

  4. It’s really Real Madrid that need to go past ManU and not vice versa. Apart from the fact that lossing to Manchester will end their chance of winning a major trophy this year, they as well should be able to prove FIFA right about the selection of their best eleven that were made of predominantly Barca/Madrid players.

  5. I know I will get negative reactions but whatever….Chelsea was one of the worst CL/European Cup winners since probably Steaua Bucharest, absolute fluke

    Anyway, have a feeling United will progress, Arsenal probably won’t but it will not be easy for Bayern.

  6. 1 season of BPL teams not in the quarter finals of UCL doesn’t mean the BPL is failing or loosing the plot or that it all of a sudden isn’t the best league in the world.

    That is just knee jerk over reaction from people that are just resentful.

    I cant stand that CFC won, and I certainly don’t like the way they won. but they did win… you cant deny it, yes…it was lucky etc..etc.. but they won it.. english clubs have been so dominant that uefa had to change the rules to stop that domination, otherwise there would have been 5 teams in this season.

    Man Utd going through would be good for the BPL… but I cant see it, the demolition that Farcenal will take from Bayern will certainly not be.

    The joke that was the Spurs collapse at the hands of ‘arry coupled with the Uefa rule change means that Farcenal are a team in a false position and should not be in the competition as they have shown by their form this season.

    Farcenal are weak as Shalke 04 showed, but their coefficient means they get an easier group…..again!

    That will change this season thankfully when they do not qualify as they finish outside the top 4.

    1. Wow. I was expecting to see a condescending post against Chelsea but you actually said the truth and posted with common sense. Seriously, I am really impressed.

  7. You sort of get the impression from City and Chavski’s play in the group stages that they were outclassed. (Certainly City was by all 3 clubs, really. Chavski did not look up to the calibre of Shakhtar and certainly not to Juve.)

    Le Arse and particularly the filth played in ridiculously weak groups. Just absurdly weak competition. Braga? Galatasaray? Cluj?

    So I think it is a reasonable proposition that the EPL has something to prove here.

    And to the haters on Chavski? Please. What they did last spring was damned impressive. UEFAlona perennially gets every single call, has every decision go its way. One could call them the “Manchester United” of European football. Getting past them, and with men at that, is worthy of respect. And even more so that late stunning comeback in essentially an away fixture in front of 80,000 Bavarians.

    1. I meant “with 10 men.” Of course the players in general were men. Women don’t play in the UCL, other than for the clubs that United gets drawn against in the group stages.

  8. While anything can happen in a 2-leg knockout stage of the tournament, neither United nor Arsenal are as good as teams such as Barcelona, Bayern, Real Madrid or Juventus.

    United have a better chance of beating Real Madrid, than Arsenal beating Bayern, since the 2nd leg will be at Old Trafford. Madrid are also without goalkeeper Casillas. If both teams play at their best Madrid will win. However, Madrid have been very inconsistent this season so United do have a chance.

    On present form it will be difficult for Arsenal to beat Bayern. Both sides will play open football so there should be lots of goals in this matchup. Arsenal’s defense is worse than Bayern’s which is why I think Bayern will win. Still, the pace of Arsenal’s wide men could trouble Bayern.

  9. “Yes, Chelsea you won, but that’s because you parked your entire team inside the penalty box against Barcelona. You won because you didn’t play football.”

    I’m a Man U fan but this is just bitter, bitter angst. Why are you such a hater? Chelsea won the UCL fairly. Can’t say the same with the likes of Farcelona that have UEFA board in their pockets.

  10. What a moronic analogy. Chelsea beat the reigning champs over two legs, down to 10 men and then won the CL in the other team’s home stadium. How is that anything like the Rockets winning while Jordan was out of the league?!?! They BEAT Barcelona!!! The Jordan-led Bulls in your analogy.

  11. I don’t care for Chelsea at all but to say they are champions with an asterisk is nonsense. They won the games they had to win by the tactics it took to obtain victory. If you want style points perhaps Olympic gymnastics is a better fit for your pallet.

  12. I think Chelsea’s Champions League win is hard for some to swallow because, ideally, the trophy goes to the best team in Europe. Chelsea were not the best team in Europe last year.

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