Arsenal catch a Champions League break as Chelsea and City suffer

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Lady luck finally smiled on Arsenal in the Champions League round-of-16 draw, as Arsene Wenger’s side avoided big-name group winners like Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich to instead face Monaco as 1/3 favourites to qualify.

Having been handed ties against the German giants in the two seasons prior, there must have been a sizeable sigh of relief in the red half of north London when Pep Guardiola’s side were drawn out to play Shakhtar Donetsk while the Gunners still sat in the pot.

In fact, not being drawn out until the penultimate tie of the ceremony benefited Arsenal greatly as it meant they were facing one of the round’s easier sides no matter what.

As it was, a reunion with Wenger’s former French club is on the cards instead of a battle with Portuguese outfit Porto, who completed the festivities in being drawn against Liverpool conquerors Basel.

While the Emirates were smiling with satisfaction at their draw the other two English representatives were cursing their fortune, with a pair of tough games for Chelsea and Manchester City making it a 7/2 chance that all three English sides progress, according to Ladbrokes.

The Blues were handed a tie against one of the sternest opponents available to them, and will battle Paris Saint-Germain for the second season in succession. Despite the difficulty of the draw, Ladbrokes still make Jose Mourinho’s men 8/15 to progress.

Like their Premier League title rivals the Citizens’ draw has an air of familiarity about it, with Manuel Pellegrini’s side landing Barcelona, who dumped them out at the quarter-final stage last season, again. City are 11/8 to go one better this year.

Away from the English contingent, Juventus drawing Borussia Dortmund is an obvious glamour tie while the Los Blancos will be happy with their opponents having pulled Schalke out of the hat.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.