Come rain or shine, or in some cases thick fog, Arsenal always progress past the first group stages of the Champions League, so why do we ever doubt them?
The betting man, or woman, could have profited handsomely from Arsene Wenger’s Gunners progressing in every one of the last 15 seasons, though even with Alexis Sanchez in tow, punters are unlikely to be grabbing the 25/1 on a first ever Champions League trophy.
Here are three more lessons learned from the penultimate round of Wednesday group games:
1. Only fools write Arsene Wenger off
He’s had more lives than the neighbour’s tom cat, but Arsene Wenger is like a boomerang to his critics, having been written off for the 754th time following defeat to Manchester United in the Premier League.
Many believed Group D leaders Borussia Dortmund would ratchet up the pressure on the Frenchman when they arrived in north London, but as normal Arsenal had other ideas, winning 2-0 to seal qualification.
Wenger must have known he was in for a good night when Yaya Sanogo finally broke his 18-month scoring duck, before Sanchez polished off the Germans in typically flamboyant fashion.
2. Liverpool are not long for the competition whatever happens against Basel
Despite an improved performance from Brendan Rodgers’ side in Bulgaria, an almost trademark Simon Mignolet handling error, and a perplexing lack of basic defending from a set piece cost the Reds victory.
Although Liverpool are still 1/2 favourites to qualify from Group B, the win required against Basel at Anfield is far from guaranteed, given the 1-0 reverse in Switzerland.
Furthermore, even if progression is achieved, Liverpool’s lax defending will be ruthlessly exploited by bigger fish in the knockout stages.
3. Atletico Madrid are still a force in Europe
Following a few notable departures in the summer, not least Diego Costa to Chelsea, question marks were hanging over last season’s finalists before the tournament commenced.
However, a Mario Mandzukic hat-trick during a 4-0 rout of Olympiacos showed that they are not missing Costa all that much as qualification was ensured with a game to spare.
Now 2/9 to win their group ahead of Juventus, Diego Simeone’s La Liga champions rate an intriguing 18/1 shot for glory.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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