01 Feb Faltering Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs might price London its Champions League file
This is a football trivia query: What can London boast that Barcelona, Munich, Milan or Lisbon can’t match?
The reply is that none of these cities, the house to a few of Europe’s most profitable golf equipment, can declare to have an unbroken run of qualification for the Champions League group stage stretching again to the final century, however London can.
Ever since Arsene Wenger’s Premier League and FA Cup Double winners certified for the Champions League in 1998, London has had no less than one membership within the group stage each season. Solely Madrid and Manchester have longer unbroken sequences, with multi-club cities reminiscent of Athens, Istanbul and Moscow additionally failing to supply no less than one group-stage consultant in each season of the 21st century.
However London is at risk of surrendering its file of being a Champions League staple this century. The 2020-21 Premier League season is previous the midway stage and West Ham United are the main mild in London’s try to have no less than one team at Europe’s high desk. It is maybe an indication of the decline of the capital’s conventional powerhouses — Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur — relatively than the rise of David Moyes’ team, who’re fifth, 4 factors behind fourth-placed Leicester Metropolis.
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Sunday’s 3-1 defeat at house to Liverpool was humbling reminder to the Hammers, nonetheless, of the strides they need to nonetheless make to turn into a team able to sustaining a push for European qualification; few at West Ham would count on the London Stadium to be internet hosting Champions League football subsequent season. Moyes’ team are making progress, and a spot within the Europa League could be considered a hit.
However it’s a totally different story at Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs. For every membership, lacking out on the Champions League could be a serious blow, each when it comes to funds and status. It could additionally make it a lot more durable for them to recruit top-level gamers able to closing the hole on the Manchester golf equipment and Liverpool within the seasons forward.
On Thursday, Spurs host Chelsea in an important conflict for the ambitions of each. Spurs are six factors behind Leicester, albeit with a sport in hand, following Sunday’s 1-Zero defeat at Brighton, with Chelsea on the identical variety of factors having performed one sport greater than Jose Mourinho’s team. And Arsenal, regardless of 5 wins and two attracts from their final seven league video games, are nonetheless eight factors off the Champions League tempo in 10th.
Can any of London’s huge three discover a solution to break right into a high 4 that’s already starting to tug clear? Manchester Metropolis and Manchester United appear on course to qualify for the Champions League, as do defending champions Liverpool, so maybe London’s solely hope is for Leicester to endure the identical late season droop that price them a top-four end final season.
Arsenal have most to do, however they’ve no less than discovered kind and objective below Mikel Arteta. In December, the Spaniard’s future was being questioned after overseeing the membership’s worst begin to a season since 1974, however the supervisor’s resolution to again the promise of children Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka has been rewarded with the unbeaten run that has seen all gamers — younger and previous — begin to ship.
Absent from the Champions League since 2016-17, Arsenal’s failure to safe the most important funds that include enjoying in UEFA’s elite competitors continues to hamper their efforts to rebuild within the post-Arsene Wenger period. Their early-season kind has nearly definitely left them with an excessive amount of to do, although, and they’re going through one other season exterior the Champions League.
Spurs and Chelsea can nonetheless shut the hole, and the result of Thursday’s sport on the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will give a sign as to which ones is most certainly to threaten Leicester’s grip on fourth. Chelsea have already made their transfer when it comes to shaking issues up at Stamford Bridge by sacking supervisor Frank Lampard and changing him with former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel.
Having spent greater than £220 million on new signings final summer time, Chelsea proprietor Roman Abramovich sanctioned Lampard’s dismissal figuring out that Tuchel has time to show the scenario round and discover a solution to encourage Timo Werner and Kai Havertz to search out the attacking high quality that prompted their recruitment. In two video games to date below Tuchel, Chelsea have banked 4 factors and stored two clear sheets, so there are early indicators of progress. However that may be undone with a defeat at Tottenham.
It’s Spurs who must be the favourites to maintain London’s flag flying within the Champions League, nonetheless. Mourinho has the Premier League expertise and a confirmed observe file within the Champions League. Spurs even have a sport in hand which, in the event that they win it, will take them above West Ham and transfer them three factors behind Leicester. However Spurs have suffered a dramatic lack of kind in latest weeks, with simply two wins from their final 9 league video games. Since surrendering high spot with a 2-1 defeat at Liverpool on Dec. 16, Mourinho’s team have dropped like a stone, scoring simply 9 targets in seven video games.
With Harry Kane now sidelined with an ankle harm and Gareth Bale failing to indicate something like his greatest kind since arriving on mortgage from Actual Madrid, Spurs danger operating out of steam, and targets, simply because the top-four race begins to accentuate.
Identical to Arsenal earlier than them, Spurs want Champions League football to finance their new stadium. Failure to qualify once more would increase query marks over the membership’s skill to carry on to the likes of Kane and Son Heung-Min. However proper now, none of London’s heavyweights look to be protected bets to qualify for the Champions League, and town’s unbroken run within the competitors is in danger.