It’s kind of difficult to react in a normal manner when you see Liverpool and Tottenham do what they did earlier on this week. The pressure of having to try and replicate an accomplishment of that nature is difficult even at the best of times, but when your back is also against the wall, it can get pretty tricky.
The expectation was on Chelsea and Arsenal to progress into the Europa League final, which is somewhat amusing given that the exact opposite was expected of Tottenham and Liverpool. Perhaps, as a result, there was something a little bit different about the Thursday ties – although for Arsenal, you wouldn’t have been able to tell.
They were able to keep control of the pace in their second leg against Valencia, and despite a few scares here and there, they got through the worst of it and came out the other side with a place in the final intact. For them, as we well know, it’s a do or die situation as they attempt to navigate their way through the stormy waters of the Europa League and back to the Champions League.
Chelsea went a slightly different route, as they were forced to engage in the cruel art of penalties. Given the history between Germany and England in that department (the Blues were playing Eintracht Frankfurt) it seemed like a minor foregone conclusion that Chelsea would mess this up. In the early stages of the shootout it seemed as if that was going to be the case, but after a turn of fortunes, it was Maurizio Sarri’s men who were celebrating an impending trip to Baku.
The Guardian were reporting that these results signified the dominance of English teams in Europe once again, and in truth, it’s hard to get away from that as the main takeaway here. After years of ridicule they just managed to piece everything together really well, forging a path to the promised land in the process. Now, hopefully, there will be a little bit of respect given for the English.
As BBC is reporting, Chelsea have another game to worry about (as well as the other three clubs) this weekend, but you have to wonder whether or not they’re going to care. Liverpool are the only ones who really have something left to play for in the form of the title, whereas the others should probably look into the possibility of resting their top stars.
It’ll be interesting to see how long the effect of this monumental week will last for English football and the Premier League, especially given that one of the teams that didn’t make it to a European final, Manchester City, is on the verge of winning the Premier League title.
There are so many different ways that this could still turn, and at such a late stage of the season, that’s really exciting. Our one hope is for this to not be a one off, and for English teams to continue riding this wave of momentum into the future.