Arsenal set for better Champions League than English rivals
Good group stage draw should see the Gunners take top spot and avoid powerhouses
Arsenal can be backed at 13/2 to be the English club that goes furthest in the Champions League and a kind group stage draw could see a bet on the outsiders lead to some big payouts later in the season.
Their inability to lift any trophies in the last seven years has developed into one of football’s most well-documented shortcomings but, with Chelsea and Man City in a scrap to win their groups, Man United are set to battle the Gunners to see who can tread the deepest water without drowning.
Schalke, Montpellier and Olympiakos are decent sides, but they lack the quality that Arsenal have in their ranks and, if Arsene Wenger’s men can maintain their current form, winning the group should be simple.
This will mean they avoid the inevitable group-winning, European football behemoths in the first knockout round; something that has been their downfall in recent seasons.
They qualified as group winners last term but, unluckily, ran into Italian giants AC Milan in the last-16, who dumped them out 4-3 on aggregate following a horrible night in the San Siro.
Valencia and Juventus are the only elite teams they can be drawn against in the knockout stage but, with the latter well-equipped to beat Chelsea to the top of Group E, Arsenal should be set for a winnable game in the last-16, should they get the job done in their group.
With the help of a kind draw, the Gunners could find themselves in the semi-finals, though it’s difficult to envisage them going further.
Man United should take maximum points from Group H but, having said that, they should have done the same last season where they flopped like a fat bloke on the 10 metre board.
Sir Alex Ferguson won’t allow that to happen two seasons running, which will all but ensure United’s passage to the quarter-finals. They’re 6/4 favourites to go the furthest out of the English clubs and it would be foolhardy to dismiss them doing so.
However, alike Arsenal, they’re not equipped to win the competition, with a place in the in semis the best they can hope for. Unless the ridiculously good fortune that brought them the easiest group in Champions League history continues, that is.
This makes the Gunners’ inflated price a far tastier prospect than their rivals’ from Manchester.
United’s blue counterparts, Man City – a 9/5 shot to better their compatriots – are not a good bet simply because of the difficulty of their group.
Real Madrid will win Group D, despite their poor start in La Liga, which makes it a three-way tussle between City, Ajax and Dortmund for second spot.
Ajax proved in their Europa League second-leg at Old Trafford that they are a handy team, whereas Dortmund have won successive Bundesliga’s ahead of Bayern Munich and will be stronger for having a experienced the tournament last term.
City are unquestionably better than these two, but they will have to be on their game to ensure qualification; a feat they failed to achieve last season.
Plus, even if they do make it through, they could get Barcelona in the second round and then they’re in trouble.
The defending champions, as previously mentioned, will have to contend with the might of Juventus in their bid to win Group E.
This isn’t as tough as the hand dealt Man City, but it definitely isn’t easy. Atletico Madrid wiped the floor with a near full-strength Blues team in the European Super Cup and repeat performances against Juve will result in the same outcome.
Travelling to Shakthar is a trip teams hate to make and is another potential stumbling block for Chelsea, though the Ukrainians don’t have a qualification from this group in them so they needn’t worry about an early elimination.
A second-place finish, as with Man City, opens up all kinds of scary possibilities for Roberto Di Matteo’s men and makes their price of 3/1 to be the most successful Premier League representative in the competition one worth overlooking.
All odds and markets are correct as of publication