Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal and Celtic meet in Champions League

Arsenal have been drawn to face Celtic in an all-British tie later this month to reach the Champions League group stage.

Celtic, following their victory over Dinamo Moscow earlier this week, face the daunting task of Arsene Wenger's men.

The first leg will be in the week after the Barclays Premier League starts.

It is the first time the two clubs will meet in European competition and the prize will be a path to the lucrative stage of the competition.

"They would have wanted to avoid each other," said former Celtic and Arsenal striker Charlie Nicholas.

"But Celtic fans would be happy because after their last two games they would fancy playing anyone. It was a very good performance in Russia.

"For Arsenal, the concern is the lack of players they've brought in and injuries. I think it will be very tight."

Former Arsenal captain and Scotland international Frank McLintock believes the Gunners must show no fear in the first leg at Celtic Park.

Glasgow-born McLintock supported the Bhoys as a youngster, but would go on to guide Arsenal to their Inter-Cities Fairs Cup final win in 1970, and then help the English club to secure a domestic double the following season.

McLintock, 69, believes Arsenal should put on a strong showing to secure a result to defend back at Emirates Stadium.

He told Press Association Sport: "It will be a cracking tie because the Celtic supporters are so noisy and passionate.

"But if you are going to get anywhere in these types of competitions, we never used to worry about whether we were playing away from home first or not.

"There seems to be a lot of talk about that in modern day football, but I do not know why because it never entered our minds.

"We just gave our best in every performance, played it tight and tried to attack when we could."

McLintock, though, stressed: "Arsenal will have to be on their toes because Celtic have got a great home record over the years, but it was their away record, until the other day, which was one of the worst in Europe."

Celtic first-team coach Mark Venus admitted it was the draw he wanted to avoid.

"I think realistically it's the draw that we probably wouldn't have taken of the five teams," he said.

"But we've got to look forward to it, enjoy it and relish it.

"I think it's a great draw for Scottish football. It's going to be a great game, a great European night."

Of Arsenal, he added: "I think they're a talented bunch of footballers.

"They're a totally technical team, very patient in the build-up."

He added: "I hope they'll maybe underestimate us.

"This is a big club, we've got some good footballers, there will be a big crowd.

"I don't think they'll underestimate us."

Belfast Telegraph


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