Celtic handed a far kinder route to Champions League than Arsenal


Arsenal have been handed a daunting trip to Turkey to ensure their Champions League participation for the 16th successive season after pulling Fenerbahce out of the hat in the play-off draw.

The Istanbul giants are embroiled in a courtroom battle to have their two-season match-fixing ban from European competition overturned, which complicates matters for the Gunners.

Whether the Turks are successful in their appeal will be irrelevant this season if Arsene Wenger’s men justify their favouritism to advance over two legs, however.

A price of 4/7 says they’ll dispatch Fener and, given their record of making it to the competition’s group stage, there’s likely to plenty of takers.

There’ll be far fewer wading in with a bet on the north Londoner’s 5/4 to prevail in the cauldron that is the Turk Telecom Arena though, where the Yellow and Navy Blues won nine of their final 10 games last term.

A very feasible home win at 7/4 will suitably shrink Fenerbahce’s 2/1 to knock the Gunners out over two legs, while it’s also likely that Ladbrokes’ drifting 28/1 to win the Champions League from 22/1 will soar higher still.

North of the border, Celtic’s reward for dashing the dreams that minnows Cliftonville and Elfsborg may have harboured about dining at Europe’s top table this year is a two-legged tussle with Kazakhstan-based outfit Shakhter Karagandy.

It’s a lot easier to justify why Neil Lennon’s Bhoys are the short-priced favourites to progress to the group stage against the Kazak champions, whose 2/1 to advance seems very stringent when compared to Fenerbahce’s price to achieve the same feat.

The Glaswegians are 6/5 to record a win in Karagandy, though they do have cause to be wary against this unknown quantity who bowled over BATE Borisov en route to this stage.

Shakhter can be backed at 7/4 for first-leg glory, while the draw is a 9/4 offering with Ladbrokes.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date