As we all know Arsenal have made it to the last 16 of the Champions League for the 15th consecutive season. The Gunners secured qualification with a game to spare, but yet again finished as runners-up in their group.
This is a scenario that has proved problematic in recent seasons. The Gunners have met the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona in the last 16 and been eliminated at the first hurdle. It is fair to say that finishing second in their group this season is unlikely to produce a much more favourable result for the Gunners.
Arsenal’s list of prospective opponents in the last 16 does read like a who’s who of the Champions League. As expected European superpowers Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich all won their groups, as did last year’s finalists Atletico Madrid.
Any of the four aforementioned teams are likely to cause the Gunners problems. It would take a brave man to back Arsenal to progress beyond the round of 16 if they did draw any of those four teams in Monday’s draw.
Porto and Monaco were the other group winners. The Gunners cannot face fellow English side Chelsea, or Dortmund who topped the Gunners group.
The preferable draw for Arsenal would be former-winners FC Porto or former-finalists Monaco in the last 16. Monaco made it through to the knockout stages having scored just four goals in their six games. However, the French side also only conceded once in their group campaign.
Porto qualified unbeaten from a relative weak group that also saw Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk qualify for the last 16. The Portuguese side won four and drew two of their group games.
Even the preferable draw puts Arsenal up against teams that have proved to be no pushovers this season in the Champions League.
Arsenal’s inconsistent form will not help their chances of making the quarter-finals of the competition. Whoever they meet in the knockout stages is likely to be tough opposition. The Gunners will now be kicking themselves that they threw away that three goal lead against Belgian side Anderlecht at the Emirates Stadium.
If Arsene Wenger’s side had won that game they would have won the group and faced a less daunting task in the last 16 of the competition. As it is though the side from north London could face a difficult task in the last 16, with some of Europe’s superpowers awaiting them in Monday’s draw.
Which team would you like to see Arsenal draw in the Champions League?