After Arsenal survived the pressure and nerves of our hardest Champions League play-off encounter ever, with Slaven Bilic and his Besiktas team deserving an honourable mention for pushing us so close, we wait for the groups to be drawn later today.
It is really about time that Arsenal went one better than the first knockout round as well, so we are hoping for more luck than last year which saw us placed in the toughest group of all and then getting the Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich for the second season in a row.
We still have the advantage of being in pot one, but there are still plenty of tough teams in the other three that it would be very handy to avoid. We cannot be drawn with another Premier League club, of course, so let’s have a look at the possibilities.
Pot 1: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Benfica, Atletico Madrid, Benfica, Porto, Arsenal
Pot 2: Schalke, Dortmund, Juventus, PSG, Shaktar, Basel, Zenit, Man City
Pot 3: Leverkusen, Olympiakos, CSKA Moscow, Liverpool, Ajax, Sporting, Galatasaray, Bilbao
Pot 4: Anderlecht, Roma, Apoel, Bate, Ludogorets, Maribor, Monaco, Malmo
Looking at the fourth group, two names stand out to avoid in Roma and Monaco, while Leverkusen, Bilbao and Galatasaray in the third group could be very hard opponents and everyone will be hoping to get Shaktar, Basel or Zenit from the second group.
So maybe the best we could hope for would be Arsenal, Shaktar, Olympiakos and Ludogorets. Knowing our luck, however, it is more likely to be Arsenal, PSG, Leverkusen and Roma. Fingers crossed Gooners.