There has been plenty of people getting their knickers in a twist bemoaning Arsenal’s luck at the UCL Round of 16 draw but pairing up with Barcelona is the best thing that could have happened to them. The reality is to win the Champions League this season in all probability you would have to beat the men from the Camp Nou, so far better to try now, when defeat leaves you free to focus on the rest of your season from mid-March onwards. If the Gunners were to lose a tie no one seems to expect them to win, no great psychological damage will have been done and conversely, if they could pull off the victory over two legs the momentum that would bring with it may make them an unstoppable force for the rest of the season. The draw has seen Gent or Wolfsburg and Benfica or Zenit as options inside the balls for the quarter-final draw and that potentially throws up the easiest route to major cup competition semi-final since Millwall managed to blag their way to an FA Cup Final appearance without being matched against a single EPL club in 2004. For now though Arsenal need to focus on the busy festive program as they continue to cope admirably with some star names being out injured. Last weekend at Aston Villa, Alexis Sanchez’ absence was almost forgotten thanks to a sterling box to box shift by Aaron Ramsey. The Welshman played more passes, won more tackles and had more shots on goal than any other player on the field. Manchester City will provide a sterner test than quite possibly the worst team ever to play in the EPL but it is the Citizen’s away form that is letting them down in the quest to regain the title, they are winless in four on the road and Arsenal’s Achilles heel of recent years of not picking up points against the top teams has not been an issue so far this season.
"Jose Mourinho has once again gone after three seasons at a club. Despite being initially successful at each of his previous employers it has always ended this way. In tears. He called his Chelsea players "rats" in October, (Madrid players were "traitors" in December 2012) and last week he felt "betrayed". As brilliant as Mourinho is, he is clearly deeply flawed as most geniuses tend to be. His habit of falling out not just with players but his 'star' players means you cannot help but implode. Eto'o, Balotelli (we can forgive him that one), Ronaldo, Casillas. Mata and Hazard to name just six. They've all decided The Special One wasn't for them and now despite it costing him 40 million pounds, Roman Abramovich has decided for the second time, he isn't for him either. He leaves Chelsea in a relegation fight and the fascinating thing now will be to see if those players that had "ratted" him out now twist the knife and go on a winning spree without him. I've already changed my prediction for this weekend against Sunderland from 1-1 draw to a 3-0 home win and If you believe in omens the last two times the Blues have sacked managers half way through the season, they have gone on to win a European trophy."
I will leave you with a crumb of comfort for understandably depressed Chelsea fans. No matter how stark the contrast in your fortunes from last season to this may be, it has a long way to go to match the 1937 Champions Manchester City in their quest to retain their crown. The following season City were the top scorers in the top flight yet they dropped FIVE places on the final day of the campaign and became the only team ever to be relegated with a positive goal difference!