Friday 24 November 2017

Paul Hayward: The Champions League scorelines that have made a mockery of two of London’s finest footballing institutions

André Villas-Boas. Photo: Getty Images
André Villas-Boas. Photo: Getty Images

ITALY 7 England 1. The aggregate score from two torrid Champions League first-legs in the land of Serie A points to continuing struggle for two London institutions who can find no refuge, home or abroad.

Arsenal and Chelsea are thrashing about in the Premier League and are almost out of Europe. In the north of the capital, Arsenal’s greatest manager contemplates the ruination of 16 years of work. To the west, Andre Villas-Boas could be gone in less than 10 months.

Never mind champagne football and fun galore for Roman Abramovich, Chelsea’s trigger-happy owner. There can be no progress with such a vulnerable rearguard. In this 3-1 defeat Chelsea were lively and spirited for long periods, especially in the second-half. They carried the game to the keepers of this southern cauldron. But as a centre-back combination Gary Cahill and David Luiz were a sitting target for Napoli’s effervescent strikers.

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