Five questions for the week ahead
Ole’s exploits to extend to Champions League too?
A sense of dread flowed through the veins of the Old Trafford hierarchy when PSG were revealed as Man United’s Last 16 opponents back in December. Just how would a lifeless team bereft of confidence and belief deal with Neymar and co.?
Simple. Remove the source of the problem - Jose Mourinho’s departure was announced just 24 hours after the draw incidentally - and replace him with a club legend.
The move couldn’t have worked out any better if they tried. 11 wins from 12 games in the league and cup has transformed United’s season to the point where they now are heavily fancied to get the better of the French Champions.
No Neymar and (potentially) no Cavani just adds to the intrigue of this tie - will the feel good factor created by OGS carry United through to the Champions League Quarter Finals?
Streetwise Spurs to keep up run?
No Kane. No Alli. No problem for Spurs.
Ok this isn’t entirely true since Pochettino saw his side slide out of two domestic cup competitions in the space of four days.
But they still remain in contention for an, albeit unlikely, Premier League title following four straight wins, a run which sees them in good shape ahead of entertaining Dortmund on Wednesday.
Son and Eriksen have stepped up in Spurs' hour of need to leave the prospect of lining up without Kane and Alli not as daunting as it did initially. Can the influential pair maintain their impressive league form to keep Spurs in the hunt on the European stage too?
In-form ‘Boro to be blunted?
Finally, Middlesbrough are starting to show some sign of life in the Championship promotion shake-up. An erratic December threatened to de-rail ‘Boro’s bid for the play-offs but Tony Pulis has managed to turn the tide to preside over an unbeaten run of six.
Next up though, he takes his side to Brammall Lane for a genuine six pointer: win and they close the gap on 3rd place Sheffield United to a point, lose and the difference is seven.
‘Boro will be buoyed by the Blades surrendering a 3 goal lead to Aston Villa on Friday night and will be hoping for Chris Wilder’s team to show more nerves as the race for the Premier League intensifies in a busy midweek Championship programme.
Can Chelsea win or even score away?
Following their humiliating defeat at the Etihad, Chelsea’s season is in danger of spiraling out of control. And if Mauricio Sarri refuses to change his ways then he’ll soon be out of a job.
That’s the short and fall out of it as the Blues head to southern Sweden to take on Malmö in the Europa League. A reaction of some sort, or, you know, even a goal away from home is needed to appease Chelsea supporters fast becoming frustrated at the lack of flexibility in the Italian’s methods.
It’ll be tough though. Malmö are busy preparing for their domestic season and can point to an impressive double over Besiktas in the group stage as an indicator of their ability to beat the bigger boys. Will the Swedish outfit inflict more misery on Blues fans?
Will defensive frailties haunt Arsenal further still?
The Gunners last clean sheet came just a few weeks ago at home to Chelsea but as alluded to above, this is no mean feat currently.
The fact of the matter is Arsenal don’t really deal in clean sheets. Their perennial shaky backline was on show and horribly exposed at Southampton, Man. City and especially Liverpool when the defence folded as quick as a pack of cards.
Even shutting out basement side Huddersfield for 90 minutes at the weekend proved impossible. They may have managed to shut out relative unknowns in the EL group stage but Thursday’s opponents BATE represents a step-up in a competition which only gets harder from here on in.