Arsenal will face French club AS Monaco in the Champions League last 16 having avoided big guns Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
Arsene Wenger will return to Monaco as Arsenal face Wenger’s former club for the first time in a competitive match.
Arsenal club secretary David Miles expressed his satisfaction with the draw, having avoided the big teams. Miles said: “As the draw came out, it was evident a lot of the big teams had gone.
“We’re pleased to have avoided them.
“We’re delighted to be here in the knockout stages for the 17th consecutive season and we’re very much looking forward to the games.
“We’re certainly not taking anything for granted though against Monaco. It’s the first time we’ve played them in a competitive match, so Arsene Wenger will be delighted.”
Having made it to the knockout stages of the competition for the 12th year in a row, Arsenal were hopeful of avoiding the big clubs in the round-of-16 and making through to the quarter-finals. Arsenal have drawn Bayern Munich twice, AC Milan and Barcelona in past 4 years and failed to overcome the last 16 challenge.
Having drawn Monaco, Arsenal can be hopeful of making through to the next round and be eventually crowned the European Champions for the first time. Arsenal avoided the likes of Bayern, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid to be drawn against Monaco.
Monaco are sixth in Ligue 1, having lost star players James Rodriguez and Falcao to Real Madrid and Manchester United respectively. Drawing the French side is probably the best outcome Arsenal could have hoped for.
Prior to the draw, Wenger had expressed his desire of avoiding the big teams and had admitted that drawing Monaco will make him happy.
Wenger said before the draw, as quoted by Matt Barlow of MailOnline: “I don’t think many teams want Madrid. We don’t want Bayern Munich and I’m sure they don’t want us. I’m not against Monaco because it would be a visit to my first home. I would love to go there.
“I’ve got great memories of Monaco because they gave me a chance when I was a very young manager.
When I arrived they had never been past the first round in the European Cup so we have good memories. It is a fantastic place. That would be good.”
Having drawn against the best possible opponents, expectations are high from Wenger’s side as they are arguably the favourites to progress to the next round.
The first leg of the last-16 tie will be played at The Emirates on 25th February 2015, while Arsenal will travel to Monaco on 17th March 2015 for the return leg.