Champions League draw: Italian job for Arsenal and Chelsea
Published 16/12/2011 | 13:48
Chelsea and Arsenal must both overcome tough Italian tests in the last 16 of the Champions League after today's draw in Nyon.
The London clubs are the last remaining Barclays Premier League sides in the competition following the exits of Manchester United and Manchester City in the group phase.
But managers Andre Villas-Boas and Arsene Wenger must overcome Serie A opponents if they are to reach the quarter-final stage, with Chelsea drawing Napoli and the Gunners landing AC Milan. As group winners both English sides will play away in the first leg, which takes place on 14/15 or 21/22 February, before the return fixtures on 6/7 and 13/14 March.
Chelsea's opponents Napoli were responsible for City's exit after taking four points off Roberto Mancini's side in Group A and their forward pairing of Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi is one of the most feared in Europe.
The Gunners, meanwhile, face an AC Milan side who would have been expected to be in the group winners' half of the draw had they not been paired with the might of Barcelona in Group H.
Arsenal club secretary David Miles was upbeat about the testing draw, highlighting his side's impressive record against Italian opposition and declaring it the "pick of the round".
"There were probably other teams we would have preferred but the last time we played them in the knockout stage, in '07-08, we actually went through and won 2-0 in the San Siro," he said.
"We also knocked out, in fairly recent history, Roma and Inter Milan. It's going to be tough. Everyone has earned the right to get to this stage but nevertheless, we're confident and it's going to be two great games. I would guess it's probably the pick of the round."
Chelsea secretary David Barnard admitted Napoli represented a tough draw for the Blues, saying: "It will be difficult having seen Napoli when they were in the same group as Man City. Unfortunately City are no longer with us which reflects the quality of Napoli."
Elsewhere in the draw, Primera Liga giants Real Madrid and Barca will play CSKA Moscow and Bayer Leverkusen respectively, Bayern Munich were drawn against Basle, Zenit St Petersburg meet Benfica, Marseille face Inter Milan and Lyon play Apoel Nicosia.
Champions League last 16 ties
Lyon v Apoel Nicosia
Napoli v Chelsea
AC Milan v Arsenal
FC Basle v Bayern Munich
Bayer Leverkusen v Barcelona
CSKA Moscow v Real Madrid
Zenit St Petersburg v Benfica
Marseille v Inter Milan