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August 2021

Are you all in the hat? Ready for the draw? Here we go, it’s…

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By Walter Broeckx

So we know our opponent who will we play in the Champions League today. It’s always a bit of a tense day waiting which team we will meet in the Champions League.

Other teams don’t have to look forward to such a draw. The other team, the one that wants to move from North London, doesn’t have to look forward to a draw. As they even couldn’t qualify for the knock out stages from the Europa League. Maybe it will be reported as a major victory at White Hart Lane. I think a DVD to remember this will be launched any day now and will be available for those who want to have a laugh.

Other teams will have to wait a bit longer to know their opponents. Manchester United will have to wait till the big boys are pulled out of the hat. The big boys who still are in the Champions League that is. Beaten by the mighty Bazel… still makes me smile a bit.  The most expensive team in the Europa League will be Manchester City. All that money and no more in the Champions League… well isn’t live funny sometimes?

But we are (and so is Chelsea to give credit to the other big money team in England) in the draw with the big boys for the how many times in a row? I’ve lost count a bit but someone will know the answer in the comments section I think. But we have done it again and this is something to be proud of I think.

One thing is for sure: we will not face Barcelona yet. Thanks to both of us winning our group we will not meet them now. Maybe we will meet them in Munich somewhere in May?

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But who could we face?  Well we could face the following teams in February : Napoli, CSKA Moscow, FC Basel, Lyon, Bayer Leverkusen, Zenit St Petersburg, AC Milan. Pick your favourite opponent I would say.

For me the best possible opponent would be Bayer Leverkusen. The only and main reason is that Leverkusen is not far away from where I live and thus would make it possible for me to ask Arsenal if we could buy tickets in behalf of the Benelux supporters club. Just a 2 hours drive from where I live. Mmmm mouth watering prospect I must say. Being able to have a game in the Champions League not far from our home is always nice. And if the people in Leverkusen are as nice as they were in Dortmund it should be fun. But Leverkusen is a difficult opponent, as all German teams are in fact.

It would be nice to meet Bazel. Just to have a look at the team who put United out of the Champions League. And it would be like rubbing salt in the wound of United if we would go further and put Bazel out of the Champions League.

The Russian teams is something that divides my mind a bit. The journey is a long one, the weather conditions in Russia in February are not that good. Ice cold weather, snow… I certainly wouldn’t want to go there at that time of the year.

But on the other hand the Russian teams are still having their winter stop at that time. In fact I think their league restarts the first weekend of March. So it will be very difficult for them to prepare the team and be match fit. This could be an advantage and I remember the teams who are playing a summer league who had been complaining a bit about those dates who don’t suit them very much. I wonder if Arshavin would like to play Zenit St. Petersburg, his former team, in the CL?

We also could be drawn against an Italian team. Napoli and AC Milan are two teams that are doing rather well in their league. AC Milan is very close to the two top teams Juventus and …Udinese. You know that team that we put out of the Champions League this season. Napoli is a bit further down the table in 5th place but ahead of Inter just to name another top team in Italy. Italian teams are always difficult to break down. They know how to defend a bit and are capable of scoring the odd goal and then park the bus.

Last possible opponent is the team that shouldn’t have been there. Lyon who scored/could score/was allowed to score 6 goals in a ridiculous half our at Zagreb.

An investigation revealed that no strange amount of money was put on that game. But the way the Lyon players were allowed a free passage over the field was very suspicious. A picture of a defender winking to a Lyon striker after one of the goals made it even more suspicious. And I really think that you don’t just have to look for gambling to know if a match was fixed or not. There are other fixes apart from gambling you know. The old fashioned agreement between players (or teams) to pay the other team to get a favourable result is something that can happen without the gambling syndicates knowing it. But nothing is proven but let me say I sure have my doubts about this result. And I think I am not alone on this.

Oh well let us for the moment enjoy that great feeling of knowing that we are in the hat to be drawn and a lot of other teams aren’t. Looking forward to it and we will face……


39 comments to Are you all in the hat? Ready for the draw? Here we go, it’s…

  • Mandy dodd

    Have a nasty feeling we will get Napoli, good team, intimidating place!

  • Anne

    I called AC Milan earlier. Seconds to go 🙂

  • Anne

    hm… Chelsea gets Napoli.

  • Anne

    AC Milan it is 🙂

  • Anne

    If Spurs got past Milan last year, Arsenal can this year.

  • dan

    Any predictions regarding AC?

  • Mandy dodd

    Good call Anne! Tough draw but one we can win

  • Anne

    @Mandy dodd:

    I think you called it right about Napoli being the tougher opponent. I’d rather play Milan.

  • Anne


    I don’t follow Serie A, so it’s tough to say. My general take on AC Milan is that they’re not as good as their status would suggest, and I don’t recall that I’ve ever been all that impressed with their play.

    Using Udinese as a standard, they’re two points ahead of Milan in the table right now, and drew 1-1 when the two teams played head to head. Overall, I’d say Arsenal are more than capable of winning, but good form and an absence of ref mischief would definitely help.

  • ken

    Not a bad draw better than going to the frozen long journey to Moscow
    Arsenal will get through this one what a great night it will be at the ems

  • Eric

    mhm, wonder who UEFA is trying to get rid of, italian teams or the english teams. Tough call! And Lyon after getting all the luck in the world to get to the last 16, are now up against APOEL! Coincidence? I think noooooootttttttt.

  • T2T

    Anne, good call!

    Napoli, CSKA Moscow, FC Basel, Lyon, Bayer Leverkusen, Zenit St Petersburg, AC Milan

    As for which team I’d rather meet… Basel, no doubt. Italian, German and Russian are always difficult teams to meet for a variety of reasons. Basel, because they dumped ManU out AND because they’re the weakest team of the 7 possible.

    Lyon must be counting their chances after meeting possibly the weakest team (Apoel) ever to finish top of a group.

    Leverkusen will not fancy meeting Barcelona but as we showed last year, they are beatable and for an incorrect sending off of RvP, we would have got past them last time around.

  • “We have to break our bad tradition with Arsenal and especially with England clubs,” says Milan director Umberto Gandini.

    “It’s an exciting fixture and we are very determined. Against Tottenham, we had many injuries. We accepted we were not in top shape. If you had the game today, Arsenal are not in the greatest condition, but a lot can change in two months. Robin van Persie is a fantastic player and Arsene Wenger is a great coach. They are rebuilding, but very dangerous. We are going to change tradition and go through. It’s very important we play well in Milan.”

  • WalterBroeckx

    Is the draw of the Europa league already done? Who will the spuds play… ooops sorry… 🙂 🙂

  • WalterBroeckx

    Who on earth decided to organise a meeting at the moment the draw was made????? A meeting that was disturbed by me phone rigning a few times when the draw was made…

    We have had a few nice meetings with clubs from MIlan in the past and with AC Milan itself. Wonder if we will see a glimps of Flamini??

  • Mahdain

    i was 99.9% sure we would get always happen with us getting the hardest possible draw but thinking about it i dont think milan were the hardest possible draw tbh..infact im happy we avoided napoli as they could pose some problems and chavs will need to up their game if they are to beat em…as far as milan are concerned i dont know why but im very confident about our going through..yes they will be tough but there is no reason whatsoever not to rip them apart if we get good luck with injuries..they wont be able to handle the pace of gervinho and theo and honestly i dont see anyone in their team who could stop RVP from playing and as far as their attackers are concerned we have the verminator and BOSScielny in defence and nobody messes with them….we have beaten them once and we will beat them again..bring em on

  • Anne

    Well, that was quick and easy for the residents of Manchester. First draw ManC against Porto, second draw ManU against Ajax.

  • Mahdain

    haha anne its too bad uefa didnt keep them waiting a bit longer..i can imagine how miserable they would be 🙂

  • Mahdain

    and look who our beloved stoke got….valencia… channel 5 executives must be really happy right now lol

  • Stevie E

    “Maybe it will be reported as a major victory at White Hart Lane.”
    Interestingly and perhaps unsurprisingly, the Metro this morning reported sp*rs elimination with the twist that Arry can now focus on winning the league…
    I suppose when they don’t win the league, it will be because Man U/Man City didn’t have the pressure of the Champions league to distract them so it was impossible for sp*rs to win without their resources/players, nothing to do with the fact that actually, Arry is a shite manager.

  • Anne

    And Spurs? They got a midweek break, along with the pride of knowing that they placed ahead of the Shamrock Rovers (albeit no one else).

  • Alfin

    Lets hope for the best .come on gooners.
    For the last one month i had been writting a blog.Will you guys including Tony help me in improving it.please iam looking forward it.

  • Anne

    @Stevie E:

    Nice to see you around again. I’ll be expecting a report now, though 🙂 Of course the press is reporting Spurs elimination with a positive spin. Also looks like Spurs’ failure to qualify occurred despite a bit of help from refs in both matches yesterday.

    I would have to look into it to know the details, but sounds like Rubin came back from 1-0 down to draw, despite having a man sent off. Spurs’ goal differential was also helped by the fact that Rovers were denied a goalscoring opportunity when their striker was:

    “pulled down by the…defender as he readied to shoot. To the disbelief of the home crowd, the referee decided there had been no foul.”

    The article doesn’t say whether that foul occurred in the box or not.

    Anyway, well done Spurs.

  • gooner

    come on gooners lets beat milan

  • Anne


    I doubt they’re happy with those draws, though 🙂 I can’t wait to see how the la liga crowd at the Mestalla reacts to Delap’s trademark “ball and towel” tactical maneuver.

  • Kentetsu

    I actually expected we would get one of the Russian teams. Cold and hostile. Milan instead doesn’t look too bad. If the Spuds could beat them last season, we should be able to do the same this season. And by the time we play them, we should have some full backs back again.

  • Kentetsu

    Lyon’s victory over Zagreb sounds very fishy indeed. And then they play against the weakest group winner too. I might have to do something with the fact that UEFA has a French president. After all, he did manage to get the European Championship of 2016 to be hosted by France as well.

  • rusty

    When I saw the list of possibles, I was convinced we’d draw Milan — it’s the ‘glamor tie’ of the round, and Arsenal only seem to draw minnows in the FA Cup.

    On the other hand, even with some younger talent, Milan is an aging team who could be undone by our movement off the ball. Ibrahimovic had the game of his Barca career against us a couple years ago in the knockouts, but we now have Mertesacker, just as towering, to pair with Vermaelen against him. I was more worried about the potential to draw Napoli, a team that loves to play against opponents who build moves through possession.

  • Gord

    On the Europa Cup front – Harry apparently did _not_ make an obscene gesture at the Shamrock Rover’s fans, and hence will not be punished by UEFA. This goes in keeping with him never berating an official at a game. I think Harry is personally relieved to be out of Europa Cup action, as now they will be able to find the time to reschedule the missed game against Everton.

  • Shard

    We all knew it would be Milan right? I certainly did, and it makes me almost 100% certain that we will see bent refereeing once again. Don’t forget, Bussaca is now the head of the referees at UEFA. As if Mike Reilly in England wasn’t enough. Of course as others have said, Milan is the less dangerous draw than Napoli. I call Chelsea will go out against them. Arsenal will win, if the referee calls the game fair. Which won’t happen, so I don’t know what to make of it. Hopefully, Ivory Coast go out of the ACN early so we can have Gervinho back, and Wilshere is also back by then.

  • nicky

    It will be interesting to see what happens between now and February, when we meet AC Milan…..all of which, IMO, will have a bearing on the outcome of the game.
    Our progress in the EPL,our possible dealings in the January Transfer Window and our injury list during the normally coldest time of the Winter.
    It all adds up to a particularly exciting part of the season.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I am glad we are playing a team of the stature of Milan. The way I figure, a cup competition is gravy. The Premiership is the meat and potatoes – it decides who are England champions. These cups are there for flavour. Might as well play a big club rather than some mid-table team nobody can remember. If you lose you can say that you’ve lost against a good team…instead of …Shamrock Rovers, eh Sp*rs? If you win…well…the glory is even better.

  • Gooner Gal

    I thought we would get AC Milan, but hoped we would get Lyon or Basel. Still it makes a change to go to Italy in this round. Also agree with most of what’s been said above, especially GoingGoingGooner.

  • Gooner Gal

    In a way I would like to thank UEFA for possibly making the Arsenal match up the most talked about around the world today. Brilliant exposure for FC Arsenal and commercially a nice bit of business too. Getting a ticket for the home match will be tough, if not impossible.

    The Chelsea one will be interesting too admittedly, but in terms of clash of the titans, ours definately edges it.

  • WalterBroeckx

    In my country they call these games the games of this round. So I bet that they will be shown worldwide and the interest will be big. So good exposure and good for our name in the world

  • Laundryender

    I had the good fortune to be in San Siro when we won 2-0 Fabregas and Adebayor goals. It was an immense night. AC were a better team than they are now, Italian football fears English football, the pace and intensity is something they cannot match.
    If we are injury free and Walcott and RVP are playing I can only see one result.

    Were on our way, were on our way, were going to Munich were on our way!!!

    Arsenal – Madrid Final, beers in the Hoffenhouse!! Believe!!

  • finsbury

    Slightly off tangent, a query for the Media Watch collective:

    Can someone please explain the following quote from Amy Lawrence for me please?

    ‘Wenger had to be flexible enough to shake off a philosophy he clung to like a leech and come up with a new idea’

    – Amy Lawrence. 17.12.11

    I know that I have a tiny brain. And that I don’t know very much. But I don’t understand:

    “What happened is that we sold them around the age of 29 and 30. Why? Because we needed the money and for them to not go for free….
    …I adopted a way of thinking that it was better to sell a player one year too early than one year too late. If you sell too late you don’t get any money and you cannot buy anymore.”

    Alas, key players(yes. Plural) who some of that recouped money was spent on were to lost us in the interim through injury.

    These revisionists confuse me.