Tuesday 20 February 2018

Arsenal draw Udinese in Champion’s League qualifier

Head coach Arsene Wenger of Arsenal. Photo: Getty Images
Head coach Arsene Wenger of Arsenal. Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal have been handed a difficult Champions League play-off draw against Italian side Udinese.

Arsene Wenger's men collapsed at the end of the last Premier League season to finish fourth and so face a qualifying tie to secure safe passage to the lucrative group stages for a 14th season.

Arsenal were seeded for today's draw in Nyon, and will face a two-legged fixture over Aug16/17 and 23/24, which is sandwiched between some tough Premier League games against Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester United.

Even though Arsenal were one of the seeds for today's draw, there was no fixture weighting, meaning the Gunners will play the first leg at Emirates Stadium.

Wenger, though, must serve a one-match touchline ban following Uefa disciplinary action in the wake of last season's second-round exit to Barcelona in the Nou Camp, after being charged with "inappropriate language" directed towards referee official Massimo Busacca.

The Swiss official had controversially shown Robin van Persie a second yellow card for shooting at goal just one second after he had blown the whistle for offside - the Dutch striker claimed he had not heard it due to the noise of the 95,000-plus crowd.

The 10-men of Arsenal, who had beaten Barcelona in the first leg, went on to lose 3-1 to crash out of Europe.

Midfielder Samir Nasri was also sanctioned by Uefa for his outburst at Busacca, and will not be available, nor will Van Persie, whose suspension was carried over into Arsenal's next European tie.

If Shamrock Rovers had seen off FC Copenhagen, they would have drawn little-known Czech side Plzen.

Draw for the Champions League play-off round:

•Wisla Krakow v APOEL

•Maccabi Haifa v Genk

•Dinamo Zagreb v Malmo

•FC Copenhagen v Plzen

•BATE Borisov v Sturm Graz

•Odense BK v Villarreal

•FC Twente v Benfica

•Arsenal v Udinese

•Bayern Munich v Zurich

•Lyon v Rubin Kazan

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