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    How Far Can Arsenal Go in the Champions League This Season?

    This time of year is usually an apprehensive one for Arsenal fans, at least in Europe. At this stage the group stages of the centre piece Champions League are over, with now the time fans across Europe begin thinking about the next round of the competition. So why does this concern Arsenal fans and why is this year any different?  Let me explain.

    For the first time since 2006 Arsenal have topped their group, so why is this so important? It theoretically increases the chances of securing an easier draw for the next round of the competition. How it works are that all the group winners become seeded teams, whereas the group runners up become unseeded teams. For the second round draw on Monday 12th December seeded teams are drawn against unseeded teams, although teams from the same group or country cannot be drawn against each other. 

    In theory this should makes things easier for Arsenal, however at the present moment the unseeded teams list is still very strong. They could still face heavy weights such as Bayern Munich, Juventus or either Real Madrid or Borussia Dortmund. This shows that there is no such thing as an easy fixture in the knockout rounds of the Champions League. 

    Lionel Messi celebrating another Barcelona goal against Arsenal. This defeat was the sixth year in a row Arsenal had been knocked out of the Champions League in the round of sixteen, but will this year put an end to that streak? Photo copyright Paul Gilham/Getty Images.

    For the past six years Arsenal have been knocked out in the round of sixteen, the very round which will be drawn on Monday. Whilst it's ultimately a game of luck who draws who, Arsenal can take solace from their group performance so far this season. They have topped their group and put in some very good performances, and with their squad rotation players showing promise in cruising past Basel away 4-1, manager Arsene Wenger will be feeling confident going into the next round. 

    This season already there seems a renewed vigour around the squad, with star players Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez once again standing out. Ozil has already scored four goals and has three assists in six games, whereas Sanchez has chipped in with two goals and three assists. These two are in great form and if the manager can keep them at the level they are currently at, every other team in the competition needs to be worried about what they can do. 

    It's not just Ozil and Sanchez that have been performing well however. In six games the defence have only conceded six goals, a remarkable achievement for the back five. With the other half of games still to take place, so far only Barcelona and Athletico Madrid have conceded fewer goals than them. 

    Mesut Ozil has been in marvellous form in the competition already this season, with this the most important goal of his four already. This wondrous solo goal against Ludogorets away secured a come from behind 3-2 and proved crucial in them topping the group. Photo copyright Getty Images.

    Second choice goal keeper David Ospina has been in mighty form, whilst the Laurent Koscielny led back four have all proved themselves. All across the pitch the team have been playing well, especially against rivals for the top spot of Group A, PSG. The French heavy weights have not been at their usual best this season, but there has been a resilience and grit to their performances as they have secured two draws against the favoured team, especially impressive was the barrage of attempts they faced as they secured a 1-1 draw in the Parc des Princes. 

    Whilst I am slightly biased as I am an Arsenal fan, I can assure you I am also realistic. Whilst Arsenal have put their best foot forward up to this point, it's equally feasable the streak of six consecutive round of sixteen knockouts could be extended to seven. Against a heavy weight team such as either Borussia Dortmund or Real Madrid, Juventus or Bayern Munich it would be very tough to predict an Arsenal victory over the two legs. 

    Arsenal have shown flashes of promise against top teams in the past few years, but have yet to do it when it matters. Here Olivier Giroud celebrates the opener as Arsenal beat heavy weights Bayern Munich 2-0 in the group stage last year, but could they replicate this victory in the round of sixteen this year? Photo copyright Getty Images.

    Arsenal have faced a stigma of failing to beat the top teams in the last decade, something in the past few years they have at least rectified in the Premier League. They have yet to translate that into the Champions League however, something they will need to do if they want to progress into the later rounds of the competition. The reason the Champions League is such a prestigious competition is because it's so hard to challenge for. To do so every team needs to beat the best club teams in Europe, so the task facing the North London club is an obvious one.

    The current Arsenal team is arguably the best in the past decade, and for the fans they will be hoping the team can reach their true potential and provide some joy with a long run in the competition. This article is not a piece outlining an unlikely scenario where Arsenal win the competition, it's simply suggesting that for once things might be about to change for the red half of North London. Just maybe, the team can break their recent round of sixteen curse and progress into the serious rounds of arguably the world's best club competition.

    Any thoughts on this article? Feel free to comment below, I would hugely appreciate any feedback. Follow me on Twitter @brfcjordan95.
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