COMMENTARY | Arsenal's 2-0 win over Fenerbahce on Tuesday secured the north London team's place in the Champions League group stage.
During the two-legged Champions League playoff round against Fenerbahce, the Gunners silenced their critics by emphatically outscoring the Turkish giants 5-0 on aggregate. When Arsenal was drawn against Fenerbahce on August 9, many people saw it as the toughest possible draw for the team and expected the Gunners to be forced into the lower level Europa league.
Over their last six Champions League qualifiers, Arsenal has outscored its European opponents by an aggregate score of 29-3. The impressive tally proves that the Gunners belong in Europe's top club competition.
The next step in the Champions League is the group-stage draw on Thursday. Each group contains four European club teams. Arsenal is in pot 1, meaning that it cannot be positioned in the same group as other pot 1 teams (such as Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, Porto, and Benfica). The Gunners also cannot be placed in a group with fellow Premier League foe, Manchester City (pot 3), because they both play their league matches in the same country.
Taking a look at possible matchups for Arsenal in the group stage, it would appear that the worst-case scenario for the Gunners would be to get placed in a group with Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund, and Napoli. PSG are the French champions, Borussia Dortmund were last year's Champions League runner-up, and Napoli finished runner-up in the Serie A last season.
On paper, a seemingly favorable group for Arsenal would include German club Schalke 04 (who are winless in their first three league matches this season), Swiss club Basel, and the newcomers in Austria Wien, who have the lowest UEFA club coefficient rating out of all of the 32 teams in the group stage.
The drawing for the Champions League group stage takes place Thursday at 11:45 a.m. (EST) in Monaco.
Christopher Moore has been following Arsenal Football Club for over 10 years.
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