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British clubs enjoy mixed fortunes in Champions League

Aaron Ramsey continued his good run of form with a goal in Arsenal's 2-1 Champions League victory over Marseille

Aaron Ramsey continued his good run of form with a goal in Arsenal’s 2-1 Champions League victory over Marseille

Wednesday night was one of mixed fortunes for British teams in the Champions League.

Celtic suffered a late 2-0 defeat at AC Milan, while Chelsea were shocked by a Basel 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge.

Arsenal were the only British winners on the night, as the Gunners won 2-1 in Marseille’s Stade Velodrome, in a scrappy encounter.

Shock

The biggest shock of the night in the competition came at Stamford Bridge, as Swiss champions Basel defeated Chelsea 2-1, with two goals in the last 20 minutes.

Blues boss Jose Mourinho has been criticised for both his team selection and substitutions after the defeat.

It seems that the home side underestimated the ever-improving Swiss champions. The Premier League side knocked Basel out of the Europa League at the semi-final stages last season, so this victory will be more the sweeter for Murat Yakin’s side.

The defeat was Chelsea’s second consecutive loss, after losing 1-0 at Everton last weekend. People are already asking questions about Mourinho’s ability to take the club back to their glory days.

Some are even claiming that Chelsea were a better team under former-interim boss Rafa Benitez, which seems ridiculous considering that the Spaniard was so unpopular at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho is regarded as a Chelsea hero, so surely he needs to be given time to get things right second time around.

The group is not the toughest in the competition, with games against the likes of Schalke and Steaua Bucuresti still to come. There are still five games to go for Chelsea to get their campaign back on track. However, results must improve soon for the Blues or real questions will be raised about Mourinho’s second stint in charge.

Valiant

Scottish champions Celtic suffered a 2-0 defeat at AC Milan’s San Siro, courtesy of two goals in the last eight minutes. The Hoops put in a valiant performance, but were eventually defeated thanks to goals from a deflected Cristian Zapata effort and Sully Muntari goal.

A trip to AC Milan was always going to be difficult for the Hoops, even though the Rossoneri were missing a number of first choice players. Neil Lennon’s side did not let the home side have it all their own way as they did have chances to score in Milan.

Striker Anthony Stokes was unlucky not to find the net, as the Ireland international struck the Milan bar. Celtic could have got more from the game and will feel that they have a big chance of defeating the Italians at Celtic Park.

Crucial

Arsenal were the only British side to pick up anything on Wednesday night in the Champions League. The Gunners secured a crucial 2-1 victory in France against Marseille. In truth the game was slightly disappointing, but everybody connected with Arsenal will be happy with the three points.

The first half was a less-than entertaining affair and in truth there were not many clear-cut chances. Arsenal’s opening goal was superbly taken by Gunners winger Theo Walcott, who smashed a superb volley past Marseille keeper Steve Mandanda.

In-form Gunners midfielder Aaron Ramsey doubled the visitors lead with just six minutes left on the clock. The home side got a goal back through a Jordan Ayew penalty kick in injury-time, but did not have time to get back into the game.

The victory puts the Gunners in a good position in arguably the toughest group in the competition. Arsenal now sit top of the group, ahead of Italian club Napoli.

Early

The Champions League is only in its early stages and all three British teams still have a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition. Celtic did well to make the last 16 of the competition last season, but could find it harder to do so this season.

Chelsea should recover from their opening game defeat, while Arsenal’s opening day victory has given them a good platform to build upon.

Will Chelsea be able to bounce back from the Basel defeat?

Thu 19 September, 2013
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