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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at the Etihad Stadium

Man City's draining Champions League exit will be simply music to those Chelsea ears

The Etihad ahead of kick-off on Wednesday night (Picture: YTJourno)

England bowed out of the Champions League in one fell swoop and nobody at Stamford Bridge will have been agonising about co-efficients as their week just gets better and better.

In one way, Arsenal's defeat at Bayern Munich and the loss on penalties by Man City at the hands of the club that has owned the competition down the decades was bad news.

It makes a fifth Champions League spot next season out of the question, so Chelsea will need to finish at least seventh to qualify for Europe next season, unless they win the FA Cup, of course.

On the other hand, they will have been revelling in the misfortune of their Premier League rivals - for very different reasons.

Arsenal's exit will be enjoyed because they delight in the failures of both their north London rivals. City's will be enjoyed because they were dragged through a tense and traumatic 120-minutes that will surely have left one or two of their players with much less in the tank for Saturday evening's FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

And look who had a hand on inflicting pain on City. There was Mateo Kovacic missing one of the Man City spot kicks in the shoot-out. There was Toni Rudiger rolling home the winner. Two ex-Chelsea players having a big say in Chelsea's week

Make no mistake, Pep Guardiola's men will want to put the loss behind them quickly and continue their pursuit of a domestic double. But the manner of the loss will have exhausted plenty of reserves of energy.

Kevin de Bruyne, who was the driving force leading the desperate efforts to cancel out Rodrygo's early goal, ran himself into the ground. He scored the equaliser but had to finally give up the ghost as extra-time's dark forces finally clipped his wings. Manuel Akanji, Rodri - who admitted to feeling tired last week - and Kyle Walker, only just back from injury, gave everything to the cause.

Their efforts to break down a brilliant defensive unit was unrelenting and sapping. The emotional as well as physical energy expended has to be a factor when they come to Wembley at the weekend.

And look who they will be up against: A Chelsea side suddenly brimming with confidence after the 6-0 thrashing of Everton, on an unbeaten run and with only the FA Cup to chase in terms of silverware. They can throw the kitchen sink at it and know they have every chance of inflicting another wound on a damaged City.

Having also held Pep's men to two draws in the league this season, they have no reason to feel daunted by the challenge either.

For Arsenal and City, theirs is the semi-final clash in Europe that will never be. They were supposed to meet in a two-leg showdown for the right to play at Wembley in the final - a chance to lift the trophy for the very first time, and on home soil to boot, in Arsenal's case.

For City, it was the chance for Pep to cement his love affair with the stadium, having lifted Europe's premier trophy there as player and manager.

Now, none of that is possible. The final will be Dortmund or PSG v Bayern or Real.

How will Pep pick up his deflated troops? "Well see tomorrow," he said. "Now it's rest then we come back and Friday travel to play. We'll see. It's a semi-final of the FA cup and we'll do our best." Matter of fact. Disappointment downplayed, as all professional leaders must do.

Chelsea undoubtedly are in a position to take advantage of all the angst and bruises that will accompany such a deadening loss.


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