Reuters Soccer Blog
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Three Premier League defeats in four games and Champions League last 16 qualification compromised. The last few weeks have been very tough for Chelsea coach Andre Villas-Boas.
Previous managers Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Avram Grant and Carlo Ancelotti were dismissed seemingly for less by ruthless owner Roman Abramovich.
Ancelotti won a league and cup double but was axed after the following season while Grant moved on despite being a John Terry penalty slip away from winning the Champions League.
However, there are several reasons to believe Villas-Boas may stay in his post long-term despite Wednesday’s 2-1 loss at Bayer Leverkusen.
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini was quick to say that his team’s 6-1 mauling of arch-rivals United meant little more than another three points in the bag, but the Italian must surely be hoping it could signal a shift in the balance of power.
Having knocked Liverpool off their perch when they won a record 19th league title last season, United now face the prospect of playing second fiddle to City in England and Manchester, should their heaviest defeat to their neighbours in 56 years prove to be more than just a temporary setback.
Fernando Torres woke up to mocking headlines on Monday after his open goal howler against Manchester United but there were signs at Old Trafford that the Spaniard is beginning to rediscover the form that prompted Chelsea to sign him from Liverpool for 50 million pounds.
Since joining in January he has been barely recognisable to the player who scored goals for fun while playing for Atletico Madrid and then Liverpool, managing just one goal in Chelsea blue before doubling his output with his side’s reply in the 3-1 defeat at United.
It is a bit early to single out Manchester rivals United and City as the only title contenders this season, but it appears highly likely that Arsenal will not be among the chasing pack now headed by the new-look Liverpool and Chelsea.
What is more, the 8-2 hammering the Gunners suffered at Old Trafford suggests that Arsene Wenger’s side might even struggle to finish in the top six, unless the Frenchman can swiftly turn around their fortunes.
With Cesc Fabregas gone and Samir Nasri possibly on the move too, there is a lot of gloom around Arsenal at the moment and Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat by Liverpool did nothing to help the mood.
Arsenal fans are for the first time questioning the stewardship of Arsene Wenger and have demanded some top signings to prevent yet another trophyless season.
Just another night of footballing action and another trophy for the all-conquering Barcelona, who on Wednesday clinched their third successive La Liga title despite a laboured 1-1 draw away to Levante.
Manchester United will be hoping a similarly weary Barcelona turn up at Wembley for the Champions League final on May 28, hopefully having themselves recently won their top domestic honour, the Premier League.
Manchester United took less than 40 seconds to score against title rivals Chelsea, all but killing the game and the Londoners’ hopes of retaining their Premier League crown, while in Italy AC Milan made it 18 Serie A trophies with a 0-0 draw at AS Roma. Barcelona took a giant stride towards a third straight La Liga title with a 2-0 win over Espanyol. Click on this link for our European roundup.
European competition is almost over for another season after Braga and Porto booked their places in the Europa League final in Dublin.