Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Champions League: Arsenal last-16 streak in jeopardy

Champions League: Arsenal last-16 streak in jeopardy

Robert Lewandowski's late goal changed Group F's complexion
Arsene Wenger has steered Arsenal into the last 16 of the Champions League in each of the past 13 seasons, but his team face an uphill task to extend that run after losing to Dortmund...
No team drawn in Group F of this season's Champions League can claim to have had fortune on their side, but Arsenal were at least given the chance to take control of the group by playing Napoli and Dortmund at home in their first three games.
Win those matches, and a pair of victories over also-rans Marseille would have steered them through, but the loss at home to Dortmund now means they will need to pick up at least a point in either Germany or Italy.
That onerous task has seen them slip behind both Napoli and Dortmund in the betting to qualify. Arsenal are 1.86 to escape the group, with Dortmund 1.2 and Napoli 1.73.
Dortmund won every home game in their run to last season's Champions League final, while Napoli have been victorious in all but one of their games at the Stadio San Paolo this season, including the win over Jurgen Klopp's side.
Arsenal's away record in the Champions League is chequered. Although they have won their past two matches, at Marseille and Bayern Munich, the latter result was tempered by the fact they were eliminated by the German side. In the ten away games previous to the Bayern result - excluding qualifiers - Arsenal lost six and won just two, with defeats in their final group game in both of the past two seasons.
The key game is set to be Arsenal's trip to Napoli in the last round of fixtures, where the Gunners will likely need a point to edge the Italian side into third place. Assuming both beat Marseille at home and lose in Dortmund, Arsenal's win over Napoli at the Emirates mean they can qualify ahead of the Italian side with a point due to their superior head-to-head record. Even if Arsenal claim a point in Germany, they will likely need to avoid defeat in Naples to progress.
Finishing second to Dortmund would be no disgrace, but would mean Arsenal would once again face a top seed in the first knockout round. In two of the past three years, that led to their elimination at the hands of first Barcelona (2010/11) then Bayern (2012/13).
Arsenal's confidence will have taken a hit, but given their recent form, it should not be too hard for them to shake it off ahead of their trip to Crystal Palace at the weekend, where a comfortable win is expected. The following matches against Chelsea, Liverpool, Dortmund and Manchester United are a good chance for them to demonstrate they have the character to back up their class, but also a major test that could see their detractors given plenty of ammunition should they stumble again.
http://betting.betfair.com/football/champions-league/champions-league-arsenal-last-16-streak-in-jeopardy-231013-670.html
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