Football is renowned for going around in cycles where different clubs have their opportunity to dine at the top table, but can you ever recall a time where London clubs were dominating the upper echelons of the league so much? The goalposts are changing and the Premier League is becoming very much a Manchester v London affair.
It is refreshing to see London clubs staking their claim at the top tier of the English game after years of dominance from the North West. They used to say southern teams got a little queasy as they passed the Watford Gap, but Chelsea, Arsenal and now Tottenham are anything but a soft touch away from home, with Spurs in particular making giant strides this season on the road. You also cannot underestimate the tough nature of having to play eight London derbies within your season; something clubs within the North West don’t have to worry about. I am sure the clubs in Birmingham rue the amount of derbies they have to play this season, especially given their perilous position. It does make a hell of a difference playing in those sorts of games and therefore only serves to highlight how well the London teams are doing. I firmly believe that Tottenham and Chelsea will occupy the 3rd and 4th spots this season, as the Champions League is still beyond this Manchester City team at present.
London clubs have also been impressive in Europe this season with all three successful in making it through to the last 16. Tottenham have been a breath of fresh air this season with their fearless approach to the competition, but now is the time Harry has to show his tactical prowess as the knock-out stages are very much a cat and mouse affair. AC Milan will provide Tottenham their toughest test to date, but if they can come away from the San Siro within one or two goals then they will certainly fancy their chances at White Hart Lane.
Arsenal likewise take on the might of Barcelona and while most neutrals see it as a foregone conclusion, I believe Arsene Wenger will have learnt his lesson from last season and the Gunners will certainly not roll over here. Football is unpredictable as we know, so although it is arguably the toughest draw for the English clubs, Arsenal can certainly prevail victorious.
Chelsea have the relatively easy draw of the bunch and in my opinion are actually the favourites to get their hands on the trophy in May. It is no secret that the Champions League is the one trophy that Roman Abramovich craves the most and was probably one of the reasons why the purse strings were opened in January, particularly with the signing of Fernando Torres. I look at this Chelsea team and I see a likeness to Liverpool’s Champions League winning side in 2005, in the respects that they are struggling to find their form in the league; however appear a different animal when they are in Europe. Carlo Ancelotti knows what it takes to win this tournament, having won it twice before and I don’t see any reason why he cannot add a third to his collection.
No London club has ever won the Champions League, or the European Cup before it, therefore wouldn’t it be rather fitting that it is finally achieved this season in the capital’s most iconic stadium, Wembley. My money is on Chelsea; although I am sure others will beg to differ.
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