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Saturday 21 October 2017

Lahm wary as Bayern renew acquaintances with 'hardest draw' Arsenal

Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm
Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm

Jeremy Wilson

Arsenal and Bayern Munich both received the draw they least wanted in the Champions League when they were paired against each other in the last 16 for the second successive year.

Having qualified only as runners-up in Group F after conceding two late goals in Napoli last week, Arsenal were guaranteed a difficult tie and were duly drawn against the defending European champions and Bundesliga leaders.

Mesut Ozil quickly went on Twitter to say that he was looking forward to playing so many "friends" from the Germany team and, although that sentiment will be shared by Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski, Bayern will be strong favourites.

Arsenal have wobbled over the past week after following up their defeat in Naples with a 6-3 drubbing by Manchester City, but Bayern captain Philipp Lahm revealed that his team were also unhappy with the draw.

"It's a prestigious tie but a tough opponent," he said. "It was the hardest draw amongst the second-placed teams. Arsenal are certainly not a team you'd hope to face."

It will at least represent a further chance for Arsenal to demonstrate that their improvement this season is genuine and lasting. They were beaten 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium by Bayern last year and, although they did win the return leg 2-0 to ultimately only lose on away goals, they were in a losing position for almost the entire tie.

CONFIDENCE

Arsenal, though, derived huge confidence from winning at the Allianz Arena and, Saturday's tennis score aside, they have been far more defensively resilient ever since.

"We managed to get a good result away at Bayern last season so that brings back good memories. If you're going to do well in the competition, you've got to beat the best teams," said injured winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Having won their group, Chelsea also received a gentler Champions League draw yesterday when Jose Mourinho was granted his expressed wish to face Didier Drogba's Galatasaray. "I am very happy that we drew @chelseafc because for both games I will be playing at home," Drogba tweeted.

It will be the first time that Drogba has faced Chelsea since scoring the winning penalty for the Blues in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich in May 2012.

Galatasaray, managed by Roberto Mancini, dramatically clinched qualification with a late Wesley Sneijder goal in a 1-0 victory against Juventus in Istanbul last week.

"It will be great to have him back," Chelsea midfielder John-Obi Mikel said of Drogba. "He is a player that was here for eight years, he won major trophies, he's a big player with a big personality. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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