ONE of the only positives to take out of Arsenal playing in the Europa League is that it is proving to be a brilliant experience for some of their youngsters.
The Gunners beat BATE Borisov 4-2 away on Thursday and lads like Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah and Marcus McGuane will have learnt so much.
If Arsenal were in the Champions League they wouldn’t get a look in but with the Europa League and Carabao Cup it gives Arsene Wenger two competitions to play them in.
Many complain that English clubs never give youngsters a chance, so you have to give credit to Wenger for throwing these youngsters in.
I thought the mix of experience and youth was perfect on Thursday night. As it was against Cologne in the first match.
As for the Champions League, I have said before it has been too long since English teams seriously competed.
It has been a very encouraging start but you would expect Manchester City and Manchester United to win their first two matches.
It is never easy winning in Moscow but United put in a professional performance in beating CSKA 4-1. And City’s bigger tests will come in their next two matches, both against Napoli.
Tottenham will be delighted to have two wins. The victory over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley was vital with Mauricio Pochettino setting up to hit on the counter-attack.
But by far the most impressive performance of the week was Chelsea’s 2-1 win away to Atletico Madrid.
It was the best performance by an English club in Europe for four or five years.
They controlled the game from start to finish and should have been ahead way before Michy Batshuayi’s last-minute winner.
Chelsea’s performance will send a message out across Europe.
It was against the run of play when they went behind after David Luiz’s error in giving away the penalty. But they did not panic, they carried on doing what they were doing: playing to a plan, defending and attacking as a team, creating chances and looking dangerous.
⚽ Ian Wright’s Premier League Sunday Tips ⚽
Former striker Ian Wright selects his top tips for Sunday’s action.
“The boffins at Sun Bets tell me there has never been a Premier League game end 0-0 between these sides too so expect goals.
“I’m going to have to go with Jurgen Klopp’s men as on paper they are the much better side.
“12/1 on a 3-1 away win is very tempting.”
All this away from home and against Atletico who, as we all know from their recent Champions League form under Diego Simeone, are so hard to break down.
Even Real Madrid and Barcelona have struggled against them in La Liga and Europe.
Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard, in his first start in a massive match this season, were superb down the middle, causing Atletico so many problems.
Their set-up, the same one used in the FA Cup semi-final against Spurs, gave Hazard more freedom and fewer defensive duties.
Playing as a No 10 in a 5-3-1-1 on Wednesday night he was much freer — and in a killer part of the pitch.
He caused mayhem on the ball and set up the equaliser for Morata.
It was a great personal effort in a fine team performance.
So, bravo Chelsea.