And Arsenal will play... Schalke (they hope)

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The Independent Football

Arsenal's destiny in this season's Champions League today lies firmly in the hands of a pair of legends from two of the club's biggest rivals.

Manchester United's Sir Bobby Charlton and the former Liverpool captain Ronnie Whelan will conduct the draw for the last 16 of the competition and will determine whether Arsène Wenger's side face the might of Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich, or the considerably more winnable prospect of a two-leg tie with Schalke.

Wenger would certainly prefer to avoid Barcelona and yesterday described the Spanish champions' 5-0 rout of Real Madrid last month as "the best performance of the season". He added: "What was surprising is that they had no weak moment in the game. Their determination, their focus, was for 90 minutes spot-on. The technical quality was unbelievable."

If the fearsome list of Arsenal's possible opponents – a consequence of finishing as runners-up in a group they should have dominated – was enough to have caused Wenger a sleepless night, then the managers of England's three other representatives in the draw – United, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur – no doubt slept more soundly in the knowledge that their progressing as group winners sees them each pitted against one of Roma, Copenhagen or Lyons, with only the possibility of facing Milan a cause for any night-time discomfort.