Champions League draw makes dim reading for most English teams

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The Champions League draw for the first knockout round has led Arsenal to be drawn against current holders Barcelona yet again in a repeat of last year.

The Gunners know their next opponents all too well after an aggregate defeat to the eventual winners of the competition. While Arsenal may have improved over the previous 12 months, they still face a huge task to overcome a team that - when at full strength - is one of the best in the world.

Arsene Wenger will have to lead his team against one of the most formidable attacks in world football, with the front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez particularly eye-catching. Arsenal's best chance of stopping them is to hope that at least one of them is either injured or in bad form, such is their quality.


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Chelsea meanwhile, drew the worst team they could draw on paper, also facing their opponents from last year, Paris Saint-Germain. Jose Mourinho will try to take revenge for the away goals defeat from last year, despite his team looking out of sorts in the Premier League.

There is no doubt that PSG will go in as favourites for this tie, but Chelsea do have one advantage over Arsenal in that they are at home for the second leg. Unless the Blues improve drastically on recent displays, however, this tie could prove very one-sided given the quality at PSG's disposal.

Manchester City, unusually, are in the position of being favourites for their Champions League tie, with the only difficulty of their draw being the distance they have to travel to face Dynamo Kiev. The Sky Blues will go into this match as overwhelming front-runners and could now progress deeper in the competition for the first time.

Interestingly on a broader note, the Premier League risked losing a Champions League place this season to Italy Serie A, according to the most recent calculations. Happily this now looks unlikely, given Juventus have drawn Bayern Munich and Roma will take on Real Madrid and, therefore, the chances of both sides progressing are considered slim.

So there are some great ties in prospect here and don't be surprised if one of Arsenal or Chelsea pull off a shock either. With Arsenal being so unpredictable and Chelsea having the 'Special One' who knows what will happen.

Manchester City
UEFA Champions League

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