Early hurdles cleared just

Trevor Steven
IT&rsquo;S crucially important to get a good start in the Champions League group stages, but it is also devilishly difficult &ndash; as English teams ably demonstrated this week.<br /><br />All won, but by a single goal, and all made heavy weather of games that, on paper at least, looked straightforward. <br /><br />Arsenal particularly will analyse their poor performance. They played on the back foot, lacked any solidity and I have never seen them play so many wayward passes than against Standard Liege. After back-to-back defeats, they looked low on belief, but credit to them for coming back.<br /><br /><strong>IN TROUBLE<br /><br /></strong>Liverpool, so famous for their European performances, failed to shine whatsoever in their limp win over Debrecen. Chelsea were without Didier Drogba and suffered poor conditions but had to tough out a victory against Porto. Manchester United had the toughest game &ndash; a trip to Besiktas &ndash; but scraped their 1-0 win.<br /><br />There is always huge pressure to win the first match &ndash; every team is still in the hunt and so will play out of their skins, while failing to get three points immediately puts you in trouble. <br /><br />It is doubly difficult because it is too early in the season to have found any consistency. But the Premier League contingent managed it &ndash; just &ndash; and now the target is to qualify for the last 16 as quickly as possible.<br />