• Champions League

Wenger 'hoping for good draw' in Champions League

ESPN staff
December 12, 2013
Napoli out as Arsenal slip up in Italy

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted he is "hoping for a good draw" when his side enter the Champions League last-16 lottery among the clutch of teams who finished as runners-up in the group phase of the competition.

The reality may be that Wednesday night's 2-0 defeat against Napoli and Borussia Dortmund's late winner in Marseille have a profound effect on the Gunners hopes of making progress in the Champions League, with possible ties against Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich set to come their way when the line-up is decided on Monday.

ESPN Best of 2013: Football

Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 © Getty Images
  • We look at some of the best football stories of the year including Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement, Jose Mourinho's emotional return to Chelsea and Gareth Bale's world record move to Real Madrid.
  • Read ESPN's Best of Football 2013

However, a calm Wenger seemed content with his side's progress through a tough Group B, as he offered sympathy for Rafael Benitez's Napoli after they went out of the competition despite collecting 12 points in a fiercely competitive opening pool.

"We are happy to be through because this was a very difficult game," Wenger told Sky Sports. "We took this game very seriously, prepared well, we were focused, but in the second half we dropped physically a lot after the game on Sunday [against Everton].

"When you win the group, you feel you have done very well the job. When you go through as second, you hope for a good draw.

"If you look at the teams who are potentially there, at least we know we will have a difficult draw. On the other hand, we have now qualified for a 14th consecutive year for the last 16 and maybe number 14 will bring us a bit of luck.

"We will see what comes out of the draw and will assess that in February because a lot can change on both sides, on us and the team we play against, so we need to put that to the back of our minds now and focus on the championship."

Wenger suggested his side were caught between cautious and ambition in Naples, on a night when they only needed a point to secure their place in the next phase of the competition.

"The most difficult in football is when you are between two - do we attack, do we defend. We didn't score a goal tonight and that gave them hope," he reflected.

"Napoli played very well and we were a little bit on the edge for a number of minutes, but at the end we got through. You feel sorry for Naples. We had a very, very difficult group and three of us made 12 points. They can feel it's not right."

Download ESPN's new UK sport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
ESPN staff Close