EPL’s ‘miserable’ Champions League start

The odds on an English Premier League team winning the Champions League have lengthened following their display in the competition’s opening fixtures. “Miserable,” was how a leading British bookmaker summed up the start made by the English quartet in their quest for European glory. Both Manchester clubs and Arsenal suffered 2-1 defeats with EPL champions Chelsea the only side to start with a win – 4-0 against Israeli minnows Maccabi Tel Aviv.

City’s poor record

At home against Juventus, Manchester City looked a completely different side to the one that’s made such a blistering and perfect start to the EPL. City took the lead against the Italian champions when defender Giorgio Chiellini headed an own-goal following pressure from Vincent Kompany. However, Juventus showed their European pedigree and last season’s Champions League runners-up hit back through Mario Mandzukic and Alvaro Morata to ensure City’s record of never winning an opening game in the group stage extends to at least another season.

‘It isn’t a shock’

Manchester United’s defeat to Dutch champion’s PSV Eindhoven was overshadowed by the double leg break suffered by defender Luke Shaw. All eyes had been on United’s new number 7 Memphis, making his return to the club who sold him for £25 million just weeks previously, but Shaw’s injury following a challenge from Hector Moreno, visibly affected Manchester players. The Netherlands star scored a stunning, weaving opener – his third for United – but Moreno levelled in first half injury time, heading in from a corner.

United dominated and racked up 17 shots compared to their host’s six, yet it was PSV who took all three points when Luciano Narsingh struck in the 57th minute. Online football bettors may want to heed the words of West Ham boss Slavin Bilic, who, responding to the midweek results, asked: “Why are people so surprised when Manchester United lose a game against PSV?

“It isn’t a shock. You have to know that the other teams are also good. Many big clubs have lost at PSV, They were European champions once.”

‘A major surprise’

Arsenal have their own hangovers from the 2-1 midweek defeat against Dinamo Zagreb to address – not least the red card picked up Oliver Giroud which will rules the striker out of the Gunner’s next Champions League match.

An own goal by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain left Arsenal chasing the game before Giroud received his marching orders for a second yellow card offence. Junior Fernandes doubled the champions of Croatia’s lead and Gunner boss Arsene Wenger was forced to make changes. Theo Walcott sparked a mini-revival, slotting home after a superb run, but the speedster was unable to repeat his hat-trick heroics performed in the same stadium seven years previously for England, as Zagreb extended their unbeaten run to 42 games.

“You can lose in Zagreb,” commented Croatian legend Bilic, conceding: “It was a major surprise, the whole of Croatia is surprised, but it can happen. “They play football there as well. They are a decent team, unbeaten in 41 games or whatever.

“For you it was probably a shock when Besiktas knocked out Liverpool last year. For us it wasn’t.”

By: Joe Cahal

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