LONDON (AP) — Improving on last season's output by two, all four English teams have made the last 16 of the Champions League.
But the English resurgence in Europe's top competition could come to an end very soon as Arsenal and Manchester City are facing the prospect of a tough draw after finishing second in their groups. The other two, Manchester United and Chelsea, won their groups.
Premier League leader Arsenal progressed to the knockout stage for the 14th consecutive time but a 2-0 loss at Napoli in the final game denied the Gunners first place in Group F, meaning that they could be handed difficult opponents such as Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid or Paris Saint-Germain in Monday's draw.
After finishing second in Group D behind Bayern, City can't be drawn against the German powerhouse in the next round but Manuel Pellegrini's side also faces a tough task against Europe's elite clubs.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger expressed his frustration but relief was also felt within the London club ranks as a third goal conceded in Italy would have seen then bowing out of the competition.
"In the last four or five years we had a difficult draw. Maybe this time we will be a bit luckier," Wenger said. "You look at the teams that are potentially there, at least we will know we have a difficult draw. On the other hand we have qualified for the last 16 for the 14th consecutive year and maybe the number 14 will bring us a bit of luck."
Last season, Arsenal was drawn against Bayern in the last 16 and lost on away goals.
"We got Bayern Munich last year and nearly went through. If you want to achieve something in the Champions League, you have to take every opponent seriously and I think it is better for us when we have a good lot, when there is a draw that we can concentrate on," Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker said. "When you look at the teams that finished top, if you pick one out, for me, I don't mind."