Chelsea now only English hope for Champions League success
Following Arsenal’s disastrous showing at the San Siro last night, it would appear that the hopes of an English club winning the Champions League now rest squarely upon the shoulders of 14/1 shots Chelsea.
Arsenal were dominated 4-0 by a merciless AC Milan side, whose dominance in midfield areas proved key, and such a crushing defeat has left them with little to no chance of progression.
Chelsea therefore, will travel to Napoli next week in the knowledge that they are the last English hope in this year’s elite European competition.
Andre Villas-Boas will welcome the distraction from domestic league competition, where his side have faltered en route to their descent to fifth place.
His charges are 13/8 in the Champions League odds achieve victory away to Napoli in the first leg of their encounter, and they will fancy their chances of gaining a positive result in the aftermath of a weekend of FA Cup action, that too will provide relief from a poor league run that has seen pressure grow on Villas-Boas.
The Portuguese coach will undoubtedly prioritise Champions League advancement, safe in the knowledge that it remains the only major trophy that has eluded club owner Roman Abramovich, and the one he is most desperate to achieve success in.
Semi-final and final appearances have not been enough to save previous Chelsea bosses, who saw their reign at the club terminated after their failure to win the competition.
While Villas-Boas is likely to be afforded slightly more slack after being hand-picked by Abramovich, the under-fire manager will know that strong showings and results are essential in Europe to keep him in a job.
With an ageing squad likely to be overhauled in the summer, many Blues players may also see this as a final opportunity to triumph in the world’s greatest club competition, and Chelsea should need little motivation to perform well in the Champions League.