Arsenal face ultimate test in Champions League

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London, Dec 22: English Premier League leaders Arsenal will face European champions AC Milan in the first knockout round of the Champions League following the draw made at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on Friday.

It will be the first meeting of the clubs since AC Milan beat Arsenal 2-0 on aggregate in the European Super Cup final in 1994-95, their only other competitive meeting in Europe."It really doesn't get any bigger than this," Arsenal managing director Keith Edelman told Sky Sports News." I am sure our fans are already trying to buy tickets. We have a big squad, we are still involved in four competitions, and we want to win all four competitions, and we are looking forward to this very much." C Milan director Umberto Gandini told the club Web site ( "We have seen better draws in the past. We have drawn the most difficult team. The percentages of getting an English team were very high. You could say it was Milan against England given Inter's draw too.

"The English are a team that play well with lots of youngsters from (Cesc) Fabregas to (Robin) van Persie."

Another Anglo-Italian confrontation sees Liverpool, beaten in last year's final by Milan, drawn to face Italian League leaders Inter Milan.

"They are a very very good team," said Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry. "But we are really keen for our Champions League involvement to continue. We've come into good form in the Champions League -- and hopefully it will."

Inter director Ernesto Paolillo said: "The history of this competition favours Liverpool, but we are in great form and believe we could go on to the final."


One omen for Inter is that the last time they met Liverpool in Europe's premier club competition, in 1965, they beat them 4-3 on aggregate in the semi-finals and went on to lift the European Cup for the second, and so far last, time in their history.

The first legs of both matches will be in England.

Manchester United face French League leaders Olympique Lyon with the second leg in Manchester.

Lyon chairman Jean-Michel Aulas told Reuters: "It's a difficult draw but ambition and the form of the match day can help a lot.

"Manchester United are one of the greatest teams in Europe. They have been the best English side in the past decade. However, playing them fits the ambition of the club."

Barcelona, who faced Rangers in the group stage and drew 0-0 at Ibrox in a Group E match in October, return to Glasgow to face Celtic for their third tie in the last five seasons.

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said: "It is an absolutely fantastic tie for us. We have a great connection with Barcelona. We have played them twice in the last few years, there is a friendship and there is a real simpatico among the supporters. We look forward to seeing them."

In other matches, nine-times European champions Real Madrid were drawn to play AS Roma, Schalke 04 will face Porto, Olympiakos Piraeus will play Chelsea and Fenerbahce face Sevilla.

The first legs will be played on Feb. 19/20, with the return legs on March 4/5.

One India

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