Perennial runners-up Arsenal fear another last-16 exit

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With half an hour of their Champions League match against Anderlecht remaining, Arsenal were in cruise control, 3-0 up and set to remain within striking distance of the top of Group D.

The following half-hour was a train-wreck for the Gunners, as the Belgian side netted three times to pinch a draw and put their hosts on track for a second-place finish behind Borussia Dortmund.

Arsenal only need one more point from their final two group games to qualify for the last-16, but now five points behind the German side, they could face another nightmare tie in the first knockout round.

Arsene Wenger’s men are 8/1 to somehow top the group, with Dortmund priced at 1/40.

In the past four seasons, Arsenal have finished second in their group three times, and then drawn brutal last-16 ties.

Bayern Munich have been their opponents in each of the past two seasons, while they had to face Barcelona in 2010/11. The Gunners have lost every time.

Clearly to win the Champions League you have to play the best sides, but avoiding the likes of Bayern and Barcelona for as long as possible is undoubtedly an advantage, at least in terms of boosting your coefficient by making the quarter-finals.

The German champions are one side who Arsenal could now face in the last-16, with the other possible opponents likely to be Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, PSG or Barcelona and Porto.

Beating any of the three Spanish sides would be a big ask, as would Bayern or PSG, making Porto and Leverkusen the best the Gunners can hope for.

Arsenal’s odds to win the Champions League have slipped to 25/1 after their first four group games made it almost certain they would be unseeded for the last-16 draw.

Backing the Gunners now seems like wasted money, as another nightmare tie is on the cards, and a fifth-consecutive first knockout round exit could well follow.

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

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