With both English clubs in need of a Toca's Miracle away at Bayern Munich and Barcelona this week, Daniel Storey picks ten comebacks from Champions League history to inspire them...
With Liverpool's attacking prowess and defensive naivety making for exhilarating viewing this season, Daniel Storey picks ten of the most exciting Premier League sides...
10. Curtis Davies
The signing of Curtis Davies (even for a reasonably cut price £2million-ish) seemed to sum up the paucity of Hull City's ambitions upon promotion. Next stop the Championship for the Tiger Train, it appeared.
Following a disastrous £8.8m move to Aston Villa, Davies' career had stalled emphatically; a loan to the Championship followed by relegation to the same division after a move to Birmingham.
However, as with Hull themselves, Davies has been startlingly efficient upon his return to the top flight, marshalling a defence that has been remarkably tight given the pre-season predictions of doom. Such form has even led Steve Bruce to back Davies for an England call-up next month. Let's just steady on, shall we?
9. Fabian Delph
There was a time (who are we kidding, it was about three months ago) when Aston Villa paying £8million for Delph ranked amongst such stinkery as Aston Villa paying £8.5m for Stephen Ireland, Aston Villa paying £7.8m for Stephen Warnock, Aston Villa paying £8.8m for Curtis Davies or Aston Villa paying £9m for Nigel Reo-Coker.
However, to give the midfielder his dues he has overcome his rather inauspicious Villa Park beginnings, currently acting as the passing pivot of the club's midfield and earning significant praise from his manager: "He's playing ever so well at the minute, there's no two ways about it. He's only a young lad still, if he can keep injury free then he's got a big, big future." You do tend to forget that Delph is still just 23.
8. Morgan Amalfitano
Not simply included because of his pant-stiffeningly gorgeous goal at Old Trafford, nor for a strike against Sunderland so crisp that it hammered the final nail in Paolo Di Canio's coffin. Nor even for his rather strange head shape.
No, Amalfitano merits conclusion for his demonstration that a club like West Brom (and yes, I am being patronising) can attract a French international from Marseille, throw him into the side and then watch him nutmeg Rio Ferdinand (shouting the phrase 'merked' presumably) before making David De Gea look silly. In an age in which everyone has already pre-scouted every Premier League recruit, It makes us feel warm inside to know that we can all still wonder "How did they sign him?"
7. Ravel Morrison
Idea for a football romcom: Player A (let's call him Ravel Morrison) has great talent but a bad attitude, getting involved with some hoodlums on the bad side of town. Player risks losing it all, moving to London in an effort to resurrect his career, under the stewardship of fat man with moustache (it would be demanded that Sam Allardyce regrew the moustache for the film). Player then has epiphany and turns new leaf, leaving the tomfoolery behind, and talent begins to shine through.
We all shed happy tears at how the beautiful game can assist in the rebuilding of a life, and then he goes and wins the World Cup for his country. Easy.
6. Sone Aluko
Aluko rather typified the general feeling on the majority of Hull's squad when sizing up their pre-season prospects, in that he looked half-decent in the Championship but would fail to cause Premier League defences any particular degree of sweat and worry.
As with Hull themselves, thus far I/we have been proved rather spectacularly wrong. It is not that Aluko has been rattling in the goals - although the volley against Newcastle should have been mates with James (it was a giant peach) - but he has instead been using his 5' 8" frame to effectively hold up the ball and bring others into play.
No Premier League striker has a better pass completion rate, only two players have been fouled more times, and no Hull player has had more shots or successful dribbles per game. Aluko is an example of the fact that continuous hard work will pay off, even at the highest level.
5. Ross Barkley
"It's hard to explain how much he is growing game by game. In pre-season, straight away I was impressed. From that point on, he has been getting better and better and better. He is a good listener and is a quite unique talent for an English boy."
Quite the praise for Barkley from his new manager, but Roberto Martinez has every reason to be impressed. It seems unthinkable that over two years since his first Premier League appearance the midfielder had only started three more games in the top flight, especially given his performances since August. Strength, poise and considerable skill, Barkley is one of few English players that genuinely deserves the excitement he is currently generating.
4. Andros Townsend
Yes, we know, stop going on about it. Whilst we at F365 are still largely cynical of the media w**kfest over Townsend's England appearances (and the winger's first goal of the season did come from a cross after 30 shots), there is no doubt of his improvement. This is WhoScored's fifth top performing player of the season so far in the Premier League.
It seems bizarre that Townsend had reached the age of 22 without ever starting a league game for Spurs, so let's just say he's rather making up for lost time and all remain good friends, yes?
3. Olivier Giroud
"THIS game showed why Arsenal have spent the whole summer trying to buy a striker. Giroud was the worst culprit... his finishing looks anything but top class." Even as recently as late August, Arsenal ITK journalists (John Cross, in this case) were unconvinced by Olivier Giroud's ability to lead the line at Arsenal.
Two months later, one imagines his opinion has altered slightly. Four goals and four assists in eight games pretty much tells the story as the Frenchman has effected a bizarre reverse second season syndrome that makes the booing of Gonzalo Higuain in pre-season seem as unnecessary as it was embarrassing.
It may not last, but right now Giroud is as important to Arsenal as Ozil, Ramsey or Flamini.
2. Southampton's centre back pairing
After eight league games last season, Southampton had conceded 24 goals, comfortably the most in the division. To have bettered that total by 21 goals demonstrates that Mauricio Pochettino has not just implemented a change of personnel, but an alteration of the ethos within his squad. The Saints have actually scored five fewer goals compared to the start of last season, but a rise of 13 places demonstrates the improvement in solidity.
At the back, Dejan Lovren has been a revelation. Upon his move to England, several high-profile Ligue Un journalists declared themselves unconvinced at the defender's attributes, but the Croatian has formed an unflappable partnership alongside Jose Fonte, who also deserves significant plaudits for his own vastly-improved displays.
As if to act as the sweet cherry on top of a moist cake covered in sugary icing, the pair have also contributed a quarter of Saints' goals. Consider ourselves very much impressed, chaps.
1. Aaron Ramsey
Only one man to fill the top spot. Ramsey's return to form has been less of a nice surprise and more of a resurrection, the greatest comeback since Jesus snuck past that big boulder and got back into action.
This is a midfielder openly mocked when his club chose to offer him a new five-year deal. Articles were written by sensible and knowledgeable Arsenal bloggers and fine websites (yes, this one) that discussed whether he would ever again make his way into Arsene Wenger's first team. But as Matt Stanger highlighted in Winners and Losers, right now it is difficult to argue with Thomas Vermaelen's assertion that the Welshman is the "best player in the Premier League at the moment."
Such a rebirth gives hope to those footballers who are low on confidence or form, for those who have struggled to recapture form after serious injury. If for nothing else, that should be reason enough for the neutral to stand up and applaud at the Premier League's most improved performer.
Daniel Storey - follow him on Twitter