Arsenal face potential Champions League group of death if Man City win the Premier League
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Arsenal could be placed in a Champions League group of death next season if Manchester City win the Premier League.
The Gunners led the league for much of the season, only to be overtaken by City in April after a dismal run of four games without a win.
Having since rediscovered some form with wins over Chelsea and Newcastle respectively, Mikel Arteta’s men are just a point behind City at the summit, albeit having played an extra game.
The most optimistic of Gooners will still think Arsenal can pip Pep Guardiola's side to the line with just three games remaining.
However, the more level-headed contingent of the club’s fanbase will accept defeat in the title race, but find solace in the club qualifying for the Champions League for the first time since the 2016/17 season.
Yet as things stand, Arsenal could be dealt an extremely difficult return to Europe’s premier competition, with the club on track to be in a ‘group of death’.
How the Champions League pot system works
The Champions League proper begins with a group stage of 32 teams, divided into eight groups of four. No group may contain more than one club from each nation.
The draw to determine which teams go into each group is seeded based on teams' performance in UEFA competitions.
The teams are first split into four seeding pots and each group will have one team from each pot.
Pot 1 consists of the Champions League holders, the Europa League winners and the champions of UEFA's six highest-ranked nations who have not earned a place by winning either of the aforementioned tournaments.
What does this mean for Arsenal?
Should the season proceed as expected Arsenal could be placed in a very tricky Champions League group.
With City favourites to win both the Champions League and Premier League, and Roma the current favourites to win the Europa League, Arsenal would be placed in Pot 3 - albeit as the highest-ranked team in that pot.
Based on current league positions and presuming City and Roma win in Europe, Pot 1 would be made up of City, Roma, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Napoli, Paris Saint-Germain, Benfica and Feyenoord.
At present, Pot 2 would include Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus, Inter, Dortmund, Atletico Madrid, RB Leipzig and Porto.
Pot 3 and 4 are harder to predict in terms of which teams will qualify, but as things stand possible Pot 4 opponents for Arsenal could potentially include Lenz, Real Sociedad, Union Berlin, Galatasaray, BSC Young Boys and FC Copenhagen.
It means Arsenal are facing a potential group of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Galatasaray - with Barcelona, Juventus and Union Berlin another possibility.
How do Arsenal avoid this?
The most straightforward way Arsenal can prevent such a scenario would be to win the Premier League. In that case, the Gunners would move into Pot 1, and avoid a contingent of Europe's heavyweights.
Another scenario that would benefit Arsenal would be Juventus winning the Europa League, given that would see the Turin club would move to Pot 1 at the expense of Roma.
In turn, Arsenal could then move up a place to Pot 2 - with Roma seventh in Serie A an unlikely to qualify for the Champions League.
Should either Inter Milan or Real Madrid win the Champions League they would automatically be placed into Pot 1, and Arsenal could, again, move up to Pot 2.
Furthermore, if RB Leipzig - who are third in the Bundesliga - are overtaken by both Union Berlin and Freiburg, it would also see Arsenal claim a place in Pot 2.
This is because Mikel Arteta's side have a higher coefficient ranking than both Union and Freiburg.
While Arsenal may be handed a tricky group, fans of the club will no doubt be thankful to be involved in the competition after a six-year absence.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
Topics: Football, Arsenal, Premier League, Champions League, Manchester City, Mikel Arteta