A tricky draw, but Arsenal will be favourites to progress from Group F

Given the spectre of defeat that loomed over the club at half time against Udinese last night just being in today's Champions League group stage draw is enough for the fans. We'd have taken Barcelona, Milan, Ajax, and all the various Group of Death combinations just to be able to feast at UEFA's big table and gorge on the £25m money pie. As it is, the fourteen years of continual qualification for the group stages has its perks, so by finishing off the job in the second half last night Arsenal were top seeded in the draw due to the club's high UEFA coefficient ranking. We would avoid Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich and the English sides anyway. So whilst the draw is more favourable to the Gunners, tricky matches await. Marseille, Olympiacos and German champions Borussia Dortmund promise to provide Arsenal with some stern tests in the months ahead. It could be worse, anyway. Porto have to travel to St. Petersburg and Donetsk for tricky ties against Zenit and Shakhtar, respectively, but hey, at least they'll rack up some air miles. It goes without saying that Manchester United and Chelsea were given obligatory easy draws. I don't envisage any problems for City either - Bayern and Villarreal look tough on paper, but with City's squad, they'll be one of the favourites for the competition.

2011/12 Champions League group stage draw:

Group A - Bayern Munich, Villarreal, Manchester City, Napoli

Group B - Inter Milan, CSKA Moscow, Lille, Trabzonspor

Group C - Manchester United, 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 - Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit St Petersburg, APOEL Nicosia

Group H - Barcelona, AC Milan, BATE Borisov, Viktoria Plzen

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