First of all, my apologies for missing out the Arsenal game in a previous blog.
Stoke 0 Arsenal 0
So Arsenal start with two goalless draws, and Stoke aren't much better, but that's only to be expected. The press are loving this one, attributing the lack of goals directly to the departure of RVP, but they started badly last season and still finished 3rd. But the thing that really annoyed me about this was the commentators. Giroud got a huge amount of stick, even though he tried an audacious chip and almost scored, but the commentators just criticised him for not being up to speed and not fitting in. Hello, its the second game. He scored a hatful of goals last season, and I expect him to have a better impact than Podolski. Irritating commentator watch this season has Mark Lawrenson in the lead, closely followed by Jonathan Pearce.
The transfer window is hotting up, with Scott Sinclair now on his way to City. Hardly a world beater, and Laudrup has moved quickly to try to get Pablo Hernandez as a replacement, which arguably strengthens the Swans rather than weakens them. Berbatov has supposedly had a medical at Fulham, which makes Fergie's statement that there will be no more ins or outs a bit misleading to say the least. There are some that will be sad to see Berba go, and it is a meteoric dive for the ex leading premiership scorer to go so far out of favour. I believe all true United fans will wish him well, but we move on. Meanwhile, QPR are signing virtually everyone! Julio Cesar is the latest to join their ranks, whilst Esteban Granero has also been linked with the club. Granero was never more than a bit part player at Real Madrid, but you generally don;t play for Madrid if you are crap (tempted to mention Steve Macmanaman), and it looks like QPR will have a completely different starting eleven this season, though to be fair they did need it, especially with Joey Barton amongst their previous starters.
The Champions League draw was interesting, but no more than that. UEFA did their absolute best to take the drama out of the occasion by interspersing clips of George Weah and Ruud Gullit with the drawing of the balls. And how difficult can it be to unfasten a ball? Denis Law and Weah both had problems that added further ridicule to the spectacle.
Paris St Germain
Dubbed as the group that no one will watch, the only interest really is to see how the moneybags at PSG fare, especially after their poor start to the season. Kiev or Porto should take second place.
Should be a breeze for Arsenal. They will probably have a couple of dodgy results and get through in their last match. Expect Schalke to go through with them.
Zenit St Petersburg
Malaga could have been contenders, but their Qatari experiment appears to have gone badly wrong. Lets hope the Qatari experiment much closer to home goes the same way. Expect Milan and Zenit to qualify comfortably.
You have to laugh. It could have been Juventus rather than Ajax, but I'd settle for this. Ronaldo to have a field day against City, and Dortmund to go through with them. And even a trip to Amsterdam is not as good as it could be as the viewing area for away fans is terrible. Expect City fans to come back claiming to have spent more money than United in the red light district, after all, they are a massive club. And to all of you City fans complaining that you got a tough draw, the reason is simple. Its to do with the UEFA coefficient. And the reason you haven't got a high UEFA coefficient is also simple. You have no history.
I had never heard of FC Nordsjaelland before tonight, so it should be a three horse race. And it really is any two from three as the trip to Donetsk is never easy, and Juventus have come a long way since their bribery and corruption disgrace.
Should be straightforward for Bayern and Valencia.
Just because we cocked up against Benfica I don't expect Barcelona to do the same. Moscow are not the team they were, and neither are Celtic. I heard someone on Sky (might have been Charlie Nicholas) claiming that the two most intimidating places to go on European nights are Anfield and Celtic Park. Obviously never been to Istanbul, and Celtic's glory days are long gone. Expect a stroll for Barca and Benfica.
A similar looking group to last year, but I don't think that Fergie will make the same mistake twice. Cluj have had good results in the past, but we should beat them, Braga are an inferior Benfica, and Galatasaray have the mighty Elmander and Baros up front so already looking forward to the draw for the last 16.
Come back later for news on the Capital One Cup Draw.