The post-Robin van Persie era has started very poorly for Arsenal in the Premier League with the Gunners managing only 15 points from 10 matches – their lowest total since Arsene Wenger took over at the club. Safe to say, they miss him. Podolski and Giroud, reasonably asked to carry the burden of replacing the Dutchman’s goals, have thus far struggled to gel. Regardless, the Gunners have been in decent form in the Champions League bar their poor showing at home to Schalke – a 2-0 defeat.
Matches remaining: Schalke (A), Montpellier (H), Olympiakos (A)
Verdict: Arsenal should be able to secure qualification with a win at home to Montpellier and a draw with Schalke
The Champions of Europe – in case you need reminding – have been in improved form this season following the high-profile attacking additions of Oscar & Eden Hazard in the summer transfer window. Add in the scintillating form of Juan Mata, and Chelsea’s attacking trio behind Fernando Torres has been a joy to behold. If Chelsea can get regular goalscoring consistency out of their number 9, Torres, then qualification should be comfortable. A loss at the formidable Donbass Arena at the hands of Shakhtar Donetsk provides an added edge to an already fascinating fixture at Stamford Bridge.
Matches remaining: Shakhtar Donetsk (H), Juventus (A), FC Nordsjaelland (H)
Verdict: Chelsea should qualify with relative ease if they can topple Shakhtar at home. Though, the trip to Turin could decide their fate in the Champions League this season.
After being handed the ‘group of death’ again, Roberto Mancini is left ruing his luck. Matchweek one provided Manchester City a glimpse of European greatness but their second-half capitulation at Real Madrid was a crushing blow. Outplayed by Dortmund at home in matchweek two, Manchester City’s blushes were spared via the outstanding Joe Hart. That nervy draw at the Etihad is City’s only point in Group D, followed by a poor showing at Ajax in a 3-1 defeat. Mancini insists the club is ‘not ready’ to challenge for the Champions League, and “[his] players owe me three big performances”.
Matches remaining: Ajax (H), Real Madrid (H), Dortmund (H)
Verdict: Unlikely to qualify, Manchester City will be aiming to secure Europa League football.
Nine points from nine matches played – things could not be better for the Premier League title challengers. Robin van Persie has added gloss to an already potent attack alongside the likes of Rooney, Valencia and co. Manchester United are undefeated in 21 of their last 23 Champions League matches according to WhoScored.com. A narrow 1-0 win over Turkish side Galatasaray, followed by two comeback wins over minnows CFR Cluj and Braga respectively has United comfortably atop Group H. Last season’s embarrassment at the hands of FC Basel – when Manchester United crashed out at the Group Stages – is fresh in the minds of the club’s accountants; the club suffered reduced profits after failing to secure Champions League progression.
Matches remaining: Braga (A), Galatasaray (A), CFR Cluj (H)
Verdict: Almost guaranteed to progress to the knockout stages, United could secure qualification with a win vs Braga.
Key stats via WhoScored
90 – Manchester United is second only to pass-masters Barcelona in this season’s Champions League pass-completion table: 90% successful passes. Fluid.
7.3 Arsenal is averaging only 7.3 shots per game in the Champions League – the lowest of the 32 teams. Shy.
24 – Manchester City has allowed an average of 24 shots on target per game, second only to CFR Cluj. Barrage.
22.3 – Chelsea has managed an average of 22.3 interceptions per Champions League game this season, second only to Montpellier (22.7). Timely.