THE BLOG

Why the Premier League Will Rule Europe

18/12/2013 11:40 GMT | Updated 16/02/2014 10:59 GMT

When the draw was made on Monday morning, there will have been football fans the world over that wrote off the chances of Manchester City and Arsenal. Had this have been last season, then I would have agreed. This time around, however, I don't.

Although Arsenal probably have the more difficult draw, Man City and their match against Barcelona seems apt as theirs was the first tie drawn, but oh how things could have been different.

In a situation that wouldn't have looked out of place in 'Mike Basset England Manger', Pellegrini got his sums wrong and has been punished, almost to the full effect, by the Champions League draw.

The likes of Messi, Xavi, Neymar and Iniesta are good enough to beat whomever is put in front of them, but the counter argument is that Aguero, Toure, Navas and Negredo are fairly handy themselves.

The aim for City will be not to show Barcelona too much respect as they have done with Bayern in the past. Sit off them, give them space, give them time, then expect for it to all be over by the time Barca exit the Etihad.

A high tempo, exceptionally high work rate, and use of City's immense pace on the counter attack will be needed to topple the four time Champions League winners. That is exactly what City have in abundance and it's why they can win.

Fingers will be crossed in the hope that Aguero returns to action in time to regain his exceptional form that has seen him score 19 goals in 20 appearances so far this season.

Barca have only faltered twice this season, one occasion being against Ajax, but knowing that it has happened at all will be enough for City to believe they can add to that tally.

Although City have a difficult draw, the most difficult of all has been handed to the team that currently top the Premier League.

For Arsenal, coming up against Bayern Munich will prove how far they have come this season. There has been a real change in Arsenal from front to back and it feels like finishing fourth is no longer their highest expectation.

The biggest difference for the Gunners is that they can now defend, something they struggled with a lot last season. Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have forged a strong partnership at the back, which has gone some way to helping the Gunners sit top

of the table.

And then there's Mesut Ozil. The effect the German has had on Arsenal is astonishing, excluding his actions after the game against Man City. If the German playmaker is still firing on all cylinders come the end of February, then Arsenal will have a great chance of getting through.

Ozil isn't the only Arsenal player to worry about, however. Aaron Ramsey's meteoric rise has essentially made him like a new signing for Arsenal and the Welshman has surpassed everyone's expectations this season by going from a squad player to a match winner.

The outcome of the game will depend a lot on how Arsenal play on the day, but with the players that they have they are well equipped to upset the Germans and progress to the next stage.

All things considered, Arsenal do have a decent chance of getting through compared to last season when they didn't really have a hope. And Arsenal may be able to take inspiration from another English team who didn't really have a hope against Bayern.

Chelsea have drawn Galatasaray, a team they have only played twice before back in 1999, resulting in two wins for Chelsea.

Times have changed, however, and Didier Drogba will return to Stamford Bridge to the away dressing room. Whilst he poses a significant threat to the Chelsea back four, there are others amongst the Turkish team's ranks that can cause problems.

The hero against Juventus was Wesley Sneijder, the man who put them through to this stage, whose talents are easy to see given he has impressed on so many occasions.

Though not an easy draw, it's certainly one that Chelsea should come out on top of. That being said, they will have to fight for their victory.

Last but not least we have Manchester United, perhaps the team with the easiest draw, although with how United look nowadays you never really know.

As things stand, their only way back into the Champions League could be by winning it, not that I'm suggesting they can. This should be a routine game for David Moyes and his players, however, the Greek outfit scraped through on their head-to-head record against Benfica.

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