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Post mortem for English clubs

After round five of group games, it's time for a Champions League post mortem for English clubs - well, for two in particular.

Who will make it into the knockout stages? Are Manchester City ready for Champions League glory this season? Are Chelsea doomed to a long and frustrating season of disappointment?

City are in a spot of bother but, even if they don't make it out of their group, things look rosy in the Premier League. Chelsea, on the other hand, are currently a cause for disappointment for their fans and, importantly for their manager, owner Roman Abramovich is not a happy man.

Things looked to be going to plan for the Blues when Didier Drogba put them in front on Wednesday night, but Bayer Leverkusen - with mask-wearing former Chelsea man Michael Ballack in their midfield, hit back for a 2-1 win.

Group leaders Leverkusen have nine points, with Chelsea and Valencia on eight, meaning that Chelsea need a goalless draw or a win against Valencia in their final Group E game for their Champions League campaign to continue.

City are still in with a shout of progressing from Group A with one game to play. Bayern Munich have won the group already, but Napoli are second on eight points, with City third, a point adrift. Roberto Mancini's men entertain Bayern on December 7, while Napoli travel to the already-eiliminated Villarreal.

Manchester United are relatively well placed to qualify from Group C. Group leaders Benfica and United have nine points, with third-placed Basel on eight points.

United just need a point against Basel to qualify for the last 16, but their next game in the competition could then be against Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan or Bayern Munich.

For all their early-season problems in the Premier League, things are starting to look much more promising for Arsenal.

Their domestic form has improved and they are already guaranteed a place in the Champions League knockout stages after their 2-1 win against Borussia Dortmund.

Could the Gunners be England's surprise package in Europe this season?

By Mark Roach


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