Arsene Wenger says qualifying from the first knockout round of the Champions League for the first time in six year is yet another inconvenient fact that Arsenal have to overcome, no matter who they draw on Monday
Tuesday’s 4-1 win in Basel, coupled with PSG’s slip up against Ludogorets, ensured the Gunners progressed as winners from Group A but could still be paired with holders Real Madrid, German champions Bayern Munich and Europa League holders Sevilla, amongst others.
Speaking on Thursday ahead of the Gunners Premier League encounter with Stoke City, the boss refused to cede ground in the mind games stakes by stressing his belief that his squad can beat any side in Europe.
“You look at the teams you can get, some look more prestigious, more difficult, and you would like me to say, ‘I do not want this or that’. But that will already put us in an inferior position if it happens.
“Yes, you can take Real Madrid as maybe a favourite to win, because they are the holders of the competition.
“But even against Real Madrid, we’ll have a chance to qualify and we’ll have to do the absolute maximum to achieve that.
“It’s another inconvenient fact for us that we haven’t qualified for the quarter-final for six years. That will be a huge challenge for my group but I’m sure we will relish that.”
The draw is due to take place at 11am on Monday meaning the boss will be out on the training pitches of London Colney. He admits he takes comfort from not having to pay attention to the goings on in Switzerland.
“I prefer to be on the pitch rather than being nervous in front of the television!
He added: “I don’t know who decides the luck but I haven’t found the way to speak to this person!”
If you’re worried about who we might draw, it’s best to look away now. The stats are not very pretty. That said, we did draw and beat Real on our way to the final in 2006…it would be lovely to do it again.
Arsenal’s last 16 opponent probabilities: #UCL
Real Madrid 21.74%
Benfica 12.91% pic.twitter.com/MAORdZCqoq
— Coral (@Coral) December 8, 2016