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MARTIN KEOWN: Manchester City get the better of Spurs… but don't write off Manchester United

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Manchester City should get the job done against Spurs… but don’t write off Manchester United in Barcelona

  • Manchester City drew Tottenham in the Champions League quarter finals
  • Liverpool face Porto while Manchester United take on Lionel Messi’s Barcelona 
  • In the Europa League, Arsenal face Napoli while Chelsea take on Slavia Prague 
  • Sportsmail columnist Martin Keown has given his verdict on European draws 

Martin Keown for the Daily Mail

The draw for the Champions League quarter-finals was made on Friday and there are some mouthwatering showdowns in store.

Manchester City take on Tottenham in all-English affair while Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will return to the Nou Camp for the first time since his heroics in 1999. Liverpool, meanwhile, will take on Portuguese champions Porto. 

Sportsmail columnist Martin Keown has cast his eye over the quarter-final draws and given his verdict on the chances of European success for the remaining English clubs.

The Champions League quarter final draws were conducted on Friday in Nyon, Switzerland

The Champions League quarter final draws were conducted on Friday in Nyon, Switzerland

What are your first impressions of the draw… and who do you think will win the competition?

All four ties are magnificent. It is great that we could have three English teams in the semi-finals.

I went for Manchester City to win the Champions League at the start of the season and I’m sticking with that prediction.

With City and Liverpool on opposite sides of the draw, there is still the prospect that they could meet in the final.

Already in an epic tussle for the Premier League title, they could end up battling each other to be crowned European champions.

Sportsmail columnist Martin Keown has given his verdict on the outcomes of the four ties

LIVERPOOL vs PORTO 

Are Liverpool back to their best after their brilliant win at Bayern Munich? 

Liverpool seem to save their best performances for the European stage. This victory will give them the belief they can go on to win the Premier League.

Their front three – Salah, Mane and Firmino – looked hungry and back to their best. Virgil van Dijk oozed class.

There was only one team in control of that match and it was Liverpool.

They will be very happy at drawing Porto – a team they beat 5-0 on aggregate last season.

KEOWN’S VERDICT: LIVERPOOL 

Virgil van Dijk is in exceptional form and Liverpool should have no trouble against Porto

Virgil van Dijk is in exceptional form and Liverpool should have no trouble against Porto

Virgil van Dijk is in exceptional form and Liverpool should have no trouble against Porto

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR vs MANCHESTER CITY 

Who will win the all-English tie between Tottenham and Manchester City? 

I’ve said that City will win the competition so I expect them to get the job done against Spurs but it won’t be easy.

You only have to look at the contrasting workloads for the two teams. If Brighton win their FA Cup quarter-final on Saturday, Tottenham will have their feet up the weekend before they are due to play the first leg.

City have a gruelling run of six games in just 18 days in which they will play Spurs three times, a potential FA Cup semi-final, a Manchester derby at Old Trafford and a tricky trip to Crystal Palace.

KEOWN’S VERDICT: MANCHESTER CITY 

Martin Keown has backed Manchester City to beat Tottenham and go on to win the tournament

Martin Keown has backed Manchester City to beat Tottenham and go on to win the tournament

Martin Keown has backed Manchester City to beat Tottenham and go on to win the tournament

MANCHESTER UNITED vs  BARCELONA 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer goes back to the Nou Camp for the first time since his heroics in 1999. They can’t beat Barcelona… can they?

You could not have written a better script… and you cannot write off Solskjaer.

Plenty of people thought his magic had worn off after United were beaten 2-0 at home by PSG. They responded by winning at Chelsea in the FA Cup and pulling off an incredible comeback in the return leg in Paris.

On paper, Barcelona should be too strong for United. Lionel Messi blew them away at Wembley in the final eight years ago and his powers are not waning.

But United have already won at Juventus and PSG this season. Why can’t they add Barcelona to their list of scalps?

Premier League teams are strong in Europe once again and I can see United springing a surprise here.

KEOWN’S VERDICT: MANCHESTER UNITED 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will return to the Nou Camp and Keown has backed a shock result

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will return to the Nou Camp and Keown has backed a shock result

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will return to the Nou Camp and Keown has backed a shock result

AJAX vs JUVENTUS 

Can Ajax knock out Ronaldo and Juventus?

If Cristiano Ronaldo wins this for the sixth time, surely they have to name the competition after him!

Juventus were staring at the exit until Ronaldo worked his magic. Success in this competition seems to drive him.

Don’t count out Ajax, though. This is a magnificent young team who were better than Real Madrid over both legs.

Ronaldo and Juventus to go through – but it won’t be easy.

KEOWN’S VERDICT: JUVENTUS 

Cristiano Ronaldo's supreme display against Atletico shows why Ajax should fear Juventus

Cristiano Ronaldo's supreme display against Atletico shows why Ajax should fear Juventus

Cristiano Ronaldo’s supreme display against Atletico shows why Ajax should fear Juventus

ARSENAL vs NAPOLI and CHELSEA vs SLAVIA PRAGUE

What about the Europa League?

It will be a hugely disappointing campaign for Chelsea if they do not at least reach the final from here.

Arsenal have the tougher route to the final. How they fare in the home leg will be crucial. They have beaten Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United at the Emirates and were excellent in their draw with Liverpool there.

Napoli will not look forward to that game and if Arsenal make home advantage count, I can see them getting through.

KEOWN’S VERDICT: Both Arsenal and Chelsea to progress

The Europa League quarter finals were also drawn in Nyon featuring Arsenal and Chelsea

Arsenal will take on Napoli while Chelsea take on Slavia Prague in the Europa League last-eight

Arsenal will take on Napoli while Chelsea take on Slavia Prague in the Europa League last-eight

Chelsea have an easier route to the final than the Gunners

Chelsea have an easier route to the final than the Gunners

Arsenal will take on Napoli while Chelsea take on Slavia Prague in the Europa League last-eight



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Arsenal ace Lucas Torreira drops transfer revelation that could WORRY Gunners fans

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Torreira joined the Gunners from Sampdoria lsat summer and impressed in his debut season at the Emirates.

The Uruguayan made 34 Premier League appearances as the Gunners finished fifth, scoring twice.

But he has now thrown his Arsenal future into doubt by admitting he wants to play in South America.

“One day, I want to play for Boca and wear their shirt,” Torreira said.

“It’s a dream I have had since I was a little kid. It’s no secret, my family and friends know that.

“I was with several friends [at the Copa Libertadores final in Madrid]. I did not think I was going to suffer so much, I lived it with a lot of nerves.

“It was not as we wanted, but reaching the final is not for anyone. It was a nice show because I had never had the chance to see Boca.”

Arsenal boss Unai Emery is expected to have a busy summer, though his budget may be limited.

First, the Europa League final against Chelsea on May 29 is on Emery’s mind though.

Though the Spaniard recently admitted he needs money to improve his Arsenal squad.

He said: ”I think we can improve first, by spending money to achieve players.

“In the past the club have done great work in watching players, finding and signing young players and developing our players in the academy.

“I have big respect for our work, for our players in the academy.

“I want to develop the players here—giving them progress to achieve something at a big club like we are.

“We can also achieve [buy] some players who are in other teams, who can come here and give us this performance—like [Virgil] Van Dijk with Liverpool.”

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Arsenal facing transfer PROBLEM because of Man Utd, Liverpool and Nicolas Pepe

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Arsenal boss Unai Emery is looking to the transfer window to strengthen his squad, regardless of whether or not they win the Europa League.

But Manchester United and Liverpool are looking to do the same, with both clubs interested in securing Pepe’s signature.

The Lille star, who is also in the Gunners’ sights, has enjoyed a stunning campaign with the Ligue 1 giants.

The 23-year-old has bagged an impressive 20 goals from 36 league outings, clocking up 11 assists along the way.

Express Sport understands Arsenal are interested in securing Lorient hitman Alexis Claude-Maurice.

But Lille want him too as a replacement for United and Liverpool target Pepe.

Should one of Arsenal’s domestic rivals swoop for the star, then Lille may go in for Claude-Maurice.

And that would give the Gunners a problem, with Emery eager to sign Claude-Maurice as well this summer.

Liverpool have been strongly linked with a move to Pepe.

But United, according to journalist Duncan Castles, have enquired about the player Arsenal are also tracking.

“One of the clubs interested in Pepe [that] have expressed an interest to Lille is Manchester United,” he told The Transfer Window podcast.

“I’m told that last week a phone call went in to one of the Lille directors to enquire about the cost of a transfer for Pepe, who’s been outstanding in the French division this year, scoring goals and creating goals with a great deal of pace, actually a very good fit to what Manchester United would need on the right wing, to ask whether he would be available for sale.

“So Manchester United have shown their hand there. They’ve not gone any further.

“I’m told there’s been no bid and there’s been no further contact with Lille since that enquiry.

“But, again, the market’s beginning to move.

“Clubs like Lille who have players like Pepe who they know they will sell this summer, they very openly advertised and set a fee for him, would like to have as many of the big clubs bidding for him as possible, are waiting for one of these big clubs to make a move and inject money into the market so they can spend and recruit elsewhere, and those moves have implications for everyone else.”

Arsenal have also been linked with Kostas Manolas, Wilfried Zaha and Samuel Umtiti.

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Arsenal star hopes to play last Gunners game in Europa League final vs Chelsea

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Danny Welbeck could be available to play for Arsenal in the Europa League final after returning to training.

The 28-year-old has not played after breaking his ankle in November.

The Injury was so severe it required him to go under the knife twice as part of his recovery.

However, following Welbeck’s return to full training Arsenal are now planning to take him to Baku to face Chelsea, reports the Daily Mail.

Although the player will travel with the squad it is not known what involvement, if any, the England international will have during the final on May 29.

It is expected to be a farewell game for Welbeck, after Arsenal boss Unai Emery confirmed the player will be leaving the club when his contract expires in the summer.

Following Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Brighton in their final Premier League game, Emery confirmed Welbeck’s departure.

“I spoke to the club with this situation and the decision is he is going to leave,” Emery said at the time.

Despite Welbeck missing half of the season through injury, he could get an opportunity to help the club qualify for the Champions League next year as Arsenal might not be taking Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Azerbaijan.

The club have made it clear they want Mkhitaryan to travel, but the 30-year-old Armenian might be caught up in political tensions if he travels to the game.

That is because there is currently a dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory.

Arsenal are seeking guarantees from UEFA about the situation with Mkhitaryan, but the club are reputedly growing concerned about the situation.

The Gunners have already played in Azerbaijan in the Europa League this season, when they took on Qarabag FK in the group stages of the tournament.

Mkhitaryan did not travel to Baku to play but the Gunners did win 3-0 on the night.

However, it might not just be Mkhitaryan not making the journey to Azerbaijan, as thousands of fans from both clubs also face the prospect of missing out.

Both Arsenal and Chelsea have only been allocated 6,000 tickets each from the 68,700 seats at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, a decision which has infuriated fans.

And those who are lucky enough to get a ticket then face the logistical nightmare of completing a 2,500 mile round trip to attend the game.

Uefa have apologised to both clubs over the travel chaos fans face but admit they hadn’t expected an all-English final.

“It goes without saying that an all-English final played by two London teams was not a very predictable event at the time of the appointment,” Uefa competitions director Giorgio Marchetti said.

“There is little doubt that this has added significant difficulties to the event logistics.

“We are really sorry for the problems that your (and Chelsea’s) fans are encountering trying to organise their journey to Baku.

“Our experts are keenly working on this matter with a view to help find cheaper solutions for travelling fans. We would welcome a joint effort with your club in this respect.”

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