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English clubs find their new level

Mar 14, 2013, 6:41 PM EDT

Newcastle United's Manager Alan Pardew (

For the first time in 17 years, no English clubs will be appearing in the latter stages of the Uefa Champions League, a fact that concerns Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger however the Frenchman should take comfort that the Europa League seems to be a more comfortable level.

All three clubs remaining in the ugly step child tournament step forward and take a bow. Chelsea, Newcastle and Tottenham somehow limped over the finish line in one form or another to grace the last eight.

Newcastle after getting a credible 0-0 draw against Anzhi Makhachkala in the first leg left it as late as possible before snatching a dramatic last second winner through Papiss Cisse. The red card issued to Anzhi and Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez certainly helped but the Toon Army were made to suffer every second during the final 45 minutes knowing that any goal conceded would surely have sent them tumbling out.

At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea made hard work for themselves by conceding in the first half versus Steaua Bucharest meaning they would have to score three to advance. Juan Mata, John Terry and wonder of wonder, Fernando Torres scored to send a nervy Blues through however Torres contrived to miss a penalty in the 86th minute meaning that the last few ticks of the clock were more than agony for the Shed faithful.

In Italy Tottenham performed the great escape and will stagger back to White Hart Lane wondering just how they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory only to well, you know. 4-4 on aggregate only tells the score line and not the story as Inter Milan almost pulled off one of the most spectacular comebacks of all time.

The question now is can they avoid each other in the last 8 and help repair the damaged psyche of English football. Whether this year was a blip on the radar or a taste of things to come, we at least know that the Europa League can provide a small dose of pride.

  1. fastspecv - Mar 15, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    Manchester United got screwed and should be onto the next round.

  2. scottp11 - Mar 15, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    Eh, trying to stir something up, huh?! haha. There’s no doubt that the “best league in the world” label might get tossed around a bit too much. But I’ll tend to agree with the sentiment when it’s 2-3 years in a row, 4 of 6 or more of a trend.

    Obviously Man U is every bit as good as any of those other teams and, arguably, could/should have advanced. Even more so, Chelsea and City are poor examples of how to run a successful, rich, steady club. I think that model is waning. Look who’s here now, all (relatively) solid clubs and foundations: Real, Barca, Juve, Bayern, BVB. All should be applauded.

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