United and Arsenal keep top-seed status

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The Independent Football

Arsenal and Manchester United have retained their place among the élite group of top seeds for next season's Champions' League, despite a change in Uefa's seeding system. However, Chelsea and Liverpool will almost certainly have to settle for being one of the second seeds.

It means that Arsène Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson can plan for the group stage of the tournament, knowing they will avoid the four Spanish sides and the reigning champions Porto. Arsenal and Chelsea are already in the hat for the draw in Monaco on 26 August, with United and Liverpool needing to win a two-legged qualifier to join them.

The sport's European governing body have changed their co-efficient system this summer to give more weight to an individual club's performances in Europe and less to how all clubs from a particular country have done overall.

The biggest effect has been on Liverpool, who were among the top seeds for the 2002-03 Champions' League but who fall in the ranking because they have played in the competition only twice in the past five years.

Uefa confirmed that the draw for the third qualifying round of the Champions' League to decide on the final 16 clubs to take part in the tournament will see seeded sides drawn against unseeded teams. So United and Liverpool will not face the likes of Real Madrid or Juventus but one of the clubs from the second qualifying round.

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