After quite a long break in play due to the international break the UEFA Champions League resumes today. Match days in the Champions League tournament, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, span over two days in the early stages. All four Premier League teams are in action over the course of the next two days, with Arsenal and Chelsea both playing today and Manchester City and Manchester United playing tomorrow Oct. 21. The way the scheduling for this part of the group stage worked out the teams will play the same team again on match day four which takes place on November 3-4.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE STANDINGS:
When you look at the Champions League standings on either ESPNFC.com or foxsoccer.com, you’ll see that Chelsea is currently in the best position of all the EPL teams because of goal differential. The Blues, City and United are all level on points in their respective groups, but only Chelsea has a plus-three differential, while City and United are both at zero. That means great things for United in their group since everyone in Group B (CSKA Moscow, PSV Eindhoven, &VfL Wolfsburg) are all level.
It’s not so good for City in Group D because Juventus tops the group with six points and a plus-three differential. Sevilla is level with City on points but has a plus-one differential, and Borussia Mönchengladbach has zero points and a minus-four differential. Arsenal is in bad shape, not terrible shape, as some would have you believe in Group F. Yes, the Gunners are at the bottom of the group with zero points and a minus-two differential, but they’ve scored goals and they can dig themselves out of this hole.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE OPPONENTS:
ARSENAL v. BAYERN MUNICH EMIRATES STADIUM 2:45p.m. EDT FoxSports 2
This one is going to be tough but not impossible for the Gunners. Bayern Munich is one of the best teams in the Champions League and there’s a reason why they’re a yearly fixture in this tournament. Der Roten are currently on top of the Bundesliga table — seven points and 12 goals clear of Dortmund, their nearest competition. They are 9-0-0 in the Bundesliga and 2-0-0 in the Champions League, but just because they haven’t been beaten doesn’t mean that they can’t be beaten.
ESPN FC’s blog written by Tom Adams has said that the Gunners are as good as done. Now he does have a few good points — such as Arsenal does have a huge mountain to climb and it will be extremely hard for them to advance on six points. But he’s writing his entry as if Arséne Wenger and Arsenal have already lost both matches to Bayern. I’m looking for the Gunners to pull out the double upset, both at the Emirates and at Allianz Arena.
DYNAMO KIEV v CHELSEA KIEV OLYMPIC STADIUM 2:45 p.m. EDT FoxSports Plus, ESPN3
It’s no secret that Chelsea has been having a poor run of form in the Premier League this season, but looked completely different in their first outing in the Champions league. Then they faced FC Porto — Jose Mourinho‘s old club — and that domestic form found them in the Champions League. Mourinho has blamed everything and everyone — but himself — for the way that Chelsea has been playing. Things might, and I stress MIGHT, have started looking brighter for Chelsea after squeaking past Aston Villa. They might have the confidence that they need in order to take on Dynamo Kiev.
Dynamo is looking forward to the match, according to a report from ESPNFC. They just lost their first match in 38 Ukrainian Premier League games the report states. Dynamo boss Sergei Rebrov said “I’m glad we don’t have much time to think about our misfortune. We have to switch to another very important match, and I cannot imagine what can motivate the players more than Chelsea in the Champions League” according to the report.
With Dynamo manager ready to go like that you know that his team has to be ready. The big question is will Chelsea be ready, and if not who will Jose blame next?
CSKA MOSCOW v MANCHESTER UNITED AREANA KHIMKI 2:45 p.m. EDT FoxSports2
As I pointed out earlier, things are all level across the board in Group B, so a win for United would be huge and would help them tremendously. CSKA Moscow will be looking to improve their own chances of not only getting out of the group but also winning the group.
United is going to be missing some key players for this match. Winger Ashley Young didn’t make the trip due to a calf injury, according to a report from ESPNFC. The report also lists Paddy McNair and James Wilson as also being unavailable. McNair suffered liver damage while on international duty with Northern Ireland and Wilson is suffering from an illness.
CSKA is on top of the table in the Russian Premier League with 32 points, five points clear of their cross-town rivals Lokomotiv Moscow.
MANCHESTER CITY v. SEVILLA 2:45 p.m. EDT FoxSports2Go, ESPNDeportes
Manchester City has been on a roll in the Premier League and they’ve absolutely demolished their last opponents. But City needs goals almost more than they need points right now. A team can advance out of the group stages on ten points in the Champions League. In order to do that, City needs to erase the zero goal differential that they have and they might just be able to do that against Sevilla if they keep playing at or above the level that they’re currently playing.
Sevilla is currently thirteenth on the LaLiga table, with nine points and a minus-four differential. City must take advantage of a team that has had a poor start to the season, much like their Premier League rival’s Chelsea, and attack with pressure and pace. They’re going to have to keep Sevilla on their back foot if they want to take all three points and the goals from this match.