Arsenal may have to do it the hard way again to harbour their Champions League hopes beyond the group stages this season.
Having completed a tricky qualifier against Udinese to make the actual competition, the Gunners have been drawn against three decent opponents in Olympique de Marseille, Olympiacos and German champions Borussia Dortmund in Group F.
Of the three sides, Arsene Wenger’s men will be most familiar with Greek outfit Olympiakos whom they faced during the 2009/10 campaign. The Gunners fought hard for a late 2-0 win at the Emirates before losing 1-0 with a youthful squad in Greece.
Against Marseille (whom Arsenal have never played in a competitive match), Arsene Wenger faces a return to France in the Champions League for the first time since the 2006 final in Paris while Tomas Rosicky may finally get the chance for a reunion with his former club Dortmund.
Arsenal, along with Manchester City (vs Bayern Munich, Villarreal & Napoli), were the English sides with tougher tasks.
Manchester United (vs Benfica, Basle & Otelul Galati) are already eying a spot in the round of 16 while Chelsea (vs Valencia, Bayer Leverkusen & Genk) will see new signing Juan Mata return to his former club.
Arsene Wenger’s side cannot moan too much about their luck in the draw though, considering the feasible task they were handed last term. A year ago, the Gunners were drawn into a presumably ‘easy’ group of Shakhtar Donetsk, SC Braga and Partizan where they only managed to finish second in the final standings – resulting in the tough tie with Barcelona which saw them ousted.
Group A: Bayern Munich, Villarreal, Man. City, Napoli
Group B: Inter Milan, CSKA Moscow, Lille, Trabzonspor
Group C: Man. Utd, Benfica, Basel, Otelul Galati
Group D: Real Madrid, Lyon, Ajax, Dinamo Zagreb
Group E: Chelsea, Valencia, Bayer Leverkusen,Genk
Group F: ARSENAL, Marseille, Olympiakos, Borussia Dortmund
Group G: FC Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit, Apoel FC