The draw for the UEFA Champions League group stages was made earlier today and Arsenal were given one of the toughest draws possible. The Gunners were paired with Marseille, Borussia Dortmund and Napoli in Group F, despite being one of the top seeded teams in the competition.
Arsenal are very familiar with both Marseille and Borussia Dortmund, having met both these teams at the same stage of the competition just two seasons ago. Arsenal beat Marseille 1-0 away and drew 0-0 at home with them, whilst they beat Dortmund 2-1 at home and drew 1-1 away.
Dortmund proved to be very difficult opponents for Manchester City last season, having topped the group of death that featured Real Madrid, Man City, Ajax and of course themselves. Dortmund would go on to make it all the way to the Final, only to lose to domestic rivals Bayern Munich at Wembley.
Napoli met Arsenal in the Emirates Cup in pre-season and have also caused Manchester City problems in recent years too. In 2011/12 they progressed through their group at City’s expense. The Gunners will be familiar with goalkeeper Pepe Reina and manager Rafa Benitez from their time in England. Marek Hamsik is a very talented player and of course Gonzalo Higuain will be playing at the Emirates in the Champions League after all, just in a Napoli shirt and not an Arsenal one. Higuain was linked with a move to Arsenal all summer, but ended up at Napoli somehow.
Arsenal have certainly got a tough draw here. I believe they can progress from this group, but we will need signings. Our squad doesn’t have enough depth to deal with the demands of a Champions League group this strong. Some strong signings and much needed depth will make qualification from this group achievable though.
Although the draw isn’t ideal, it is what the Champions League is all about. The best teams in Europe playing each other. This group certainly offers that. The draw was going so kindly when Marseille were drawn out, but we were dealt a double blow with Borussia Dortmund and Napoli being drawn out. The games will be exciting to watch, that’s one thing that is for sure!.