As you will know by now, the Champions League quarter-final draw takes place later today (European time). With seeding out the window and four English clubs still left in the draw there is an enormous 43% chance of Arsenal playing either Manchester United, Chelsea or Liverpool. The other remaining clubs are Roma, Fenerbache, Schalke and Barcelona.
I thought it might be fun to have a quick run through Arsenal’s potential opponents and give a quick overview of who I would prefer to draw and why. Listed below are all seven clubs as well as a ‘Preference’ rating out of ten. Enjoy!
There will be plenty of Arsenal supporters who want to draw the Turks but I’m not one of them. They’ve got a few quality players in Deivid, Mateja Kezman and Roberto Carlos but the main problem I have with Arsenal facing them is that Arsene Wenger’s side would immediately become overwhelming favourites. I don’t think that’s particularly a time when Arsenal play their best (PSV Eindhoven last season, anyone?) and the added unpredictability of Fenerbahce makes me want to avoid them. Having said that, they’re one of the weaker sides and if their name did pop up I wouldn’t exactly be crying either.
Manchester United (3/10)
No thanks. Not yet, anyway. Whilst I don’t doubt Arsenal’s ability to beat Manchester United over two legs I couldn’t think of anything worse than Alex Ferguson’s side knocking Wenger’s boys out of the Champions League at this stage. Save them for the final, I say.
Despite their impeccable history in this competition I honestly feel that drawing Rafa Benitez’s side would be a good outcome for Arsenal. The boys have a really good record against Liverpool and their tendency to play defensive in this competition means that a repeat of the performance against Milan would be a real possibility. I also feel that the William Gallas-Kolo Toure partnership is perfectly suited to nullify Liverpool’s main man Fernando Torres. I wouldn’t be worred if their name popped up.
They’re arguably the best side in Europe and although a lot of the Arsenal boys will want to get revenge I’d like to keep away from them if possible. Some might say that having Leo Messi will make a difference and in fairness, it will, but I’d rather the likes of Liverpool or Manchester United get stuck with the job of dumping them out.
In my eyes the German side are the weakest club left in the competition and with that in mind they would be a decent draw. Whilst I previously mentioned Arsenal’s poor history of knocking off sides when they go in as clear favourites, Schalke just don’t have the unpredictable element that Fenerbahce do and in all honesty would probably be easy pickings. Add to that the fact that they don’t have as much of a cauldron of a home ground as the Turkish side and they’re definitely a favourable opponent.
If Arsenal draw them I really do feel they would stand a good chance of beating Chelsea, but they still remain a dangerous side. The Arsenal boys are yet to face Nicolas Anelka in Chelsea colours and Didier Drogba was also missing from their clash earlier this season and it’s fair to say that they would make a big difference. Let’s hope they pick up Manchester United and knock them out instead.
I’m sure a few of you will be scoffing at this, but of all the sides left I really want Arsenal to draw Roma. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, they’re one of the better sides around and that would mean they are one of the few sides that Arsenal would not go in against as overwhelming favourites. I already mentioned that I think this suits Wenger’s side and I reiterate that again. Additionally, Arsenal have tended to do well against Italian clubs over the years. The Roman side themselves as well as Lazio, Inter Milan, AC Milan and Juventus have all struggled to counter Arsenal’s pass-and-movement style of play and I think this Roma side will struggle as well. Finally, on a personal level, I’d love to knock Francesco Totti out the way he knocked out Australia at the 2006 World Cup. Bring them on, I say.
So there you go. Roma first, Schalke second and Liverpool third. Of course, if Arsenal draw one of the less prefered options then I’ll hardly be losing any sleep but it would be nice to see Wenger’s side get one of the those three.
What do you think?
Have your say on Arsenal’s potential opponents by leaving a comment.