Arsenal and Chelsea in nightmare Champions League draw

 

Chelsea and Arsenal must both overcome tough Italian tests in the last 16 of the Champions League after today's draw in Nyon.

The London clubs are the last remaining Barclays Premier League sides in the competition following the exits of Manchester United and Manchester City in the group phase.

But managers Andre Villas-Boas and Arsene Wenger must overcome Serie A opponents if they are to reach the quarter-final stage, with Chelsea drawing Napoli and the Gunners landing AC Milan.

As group winners both English sides will play away in the first leg, which takes place on 14/15 or 21/22 February, before the return fixtures on 6/7 and 13/15 March.

Chelsea's opponents Napoli were responsible for City's exit after taking four points off Roberto Mancini's side in Group A and their forward pairing of Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi is one of the most feared in Europe.

The Gunners, meanwhile, face an AC Milan side who would have been expected to be in the group winners' half of the draw had they not been paired with the might of Barcelona in Group H.

Arsenal club secretary David Miles was upbeat about the testing draw, highlighting his side's impressive record against Italian opposition and declaring it the "pick of the round".

"There were probably other teams we would have preferred but the last time we played them in the knockout stage, in '07-08, we actually went through and won 2-0 in the San Siro," he said.

"We also knocked out, in fairly recent history, Roma and Inter Milan. It's going to be tough. Everyone has earned the right to get to this stage but nevertheless, we're confident and it's going to be two great games.

"I would guess it's probably the pick of the round."

Chelsea secretary David Barnard admitted Napoli represented a tough draw for the Blues.

"It will be difficult having seen Napoli when they were in the same group as Man City," he said.

"Unfortunately City are no longer with us which reflects the quality of Napoli."

While Chelsea have never before met Napoli in European competition, they are not an unknown threat for boss Villas-Boas after he worked under Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan.

"It's a new experience for us with this club," Barnard added.

"Andre has experience in Italy though from when he was with Inter so he know the ins and outs of Napoli."

Arsenal have been knocked out by Barca in the last two seasons and, although Milan are one of the strongest teams left in the competition, Miles was pleased just to have a break from the reigning champions.

"Having been on the rough end of Barcelona for two years running, it's nice to know it couldn't happen a third time. It's a good draw for us."

Milan director Umberto Gandini is also looking forward to the match, but senses a potential weakness in the Gunners this season compared to their previous meeting.

"We've got to break tradition, last time (we played Arsenal) we were knocked out, losing 2-0 the San Siro. But it's an exciting fixture and we are determined to go through," he said.

"I think if you had the game today maybe Arsenal is not in the greatest condition and we are in a better status. But in two months things may change. They are rebuilding in a certain way but are still very, very dangerous.

"It's very important we play well in Milan and very important we come back to London in good shape."

"We are AC Milan. They are Arsenal. It is a great match."

Elsewhere in the draw, Serie A giants Real Madrid and Barca will play CSKA Moscow and Bayer Leverkusen respectively, Bayern Munich were drawn against Basle, Zenit St Petersburg meet Benfica and Lyon play Apoel Nicosia.

AC Milan insisted they are not seeking retribution after again drawing English opposition.

The Rossoneri, who were knocked out by Tottenham in the last 16 of the competition earlier this year, were paired with Arsenal. The Gunners also eliminated Milan in the knockout round in 2008.

"It's not a question of revenge," Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri told Gazzetta dello Sport. "We know Arsenal, it's a team that plays well.

"We will have to arrive in February in the best possible condition and without injuries."

Allegri believes rivals Inter Milan had luck on their side in today's draw in Nyon.

Inter were paired with French side Marseille while Napoli face a daunting task against Chelsea.

"From a quality standpoint, Inter has been paired with the easiest opponent," Allegri said. "Chelsea, from a European level, are strong.

"It will be difficult for Napoli just as it will be difficult for us.

"I don't believe in those that speak of a crisis in English football despite the fact that Manchester United and Manchester City were eliminated early on.

"City had a difficult group and don't have much experience in Europe.

"United's elimination was, however, a huge surprise."

Allegri, whose team finished second in Group H behind holders Barcelona, is aware his players will have to step up their game if they are to go far in the competition.

The Rossoneri won just two of their pool games and have not won on the road in Europe this season - they were held to a 1-1 draw at Bate Borisov and ended the group phase with a 2-2 draw at Viktoria Plzen.

"We will only concentrate in the Champions League in February," Allegri said. "If we make the same mistakes as we did in Prague and in Minsk, it will be difficult to progress."

The Italian champions are hoping to win Europe's elite club competition for the first time since the 2006-07 campaign.

UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Draw is as follows:

Lyon v APOEL

Napoli v Chelsea

AC Milan v Arsenal

Basel v Bayern Munich

Bayer Leverkusen v Barcelona

CSKA Moscow v Real Madrid

Zenit St Petersburg v Benfica

Marseille v Inter Milan

First leg matches will be played on 14/15 and 21/22 February. Second leg matches will be played on 6/7 and 13/14 March.

News
Jennifer Lawrence was among the stars allegedly hacked
peopleActress and 100 others on 'master list' after massive hack
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor