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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug, 3, 2007

Arsenal satisfied with tricky Sparta draw

Arsenal club secretary David Miles admitted their Champions League third-round qualifying draw could have been worse after they were paired with Sparta Prague.

Arsene Wenger's side will travel to the Czech capital to meet Sparta on August 14 or 15 with the return leg at Emirates Stadium on August 28 or 29 as midfielder Tomas Rosicky gets the chance to face his former side.

Miles told Sky Sports News: 'I think we will be pleased with that, we have played Sparta Prague four times in the last six years in the group stages of the Champions League and are very much looking forward to the trip to Prague.'

Asked if the tie could have been worse, he responded: 'It could have been - logistically, playing-wise, so we are going to be quietly pleased with that. We have a good working relationship with Sparta and it's the same faces we know as two years ago.'

The Gunners triumphed in both meetings when the sides met in the Champions League group phase in 2005/2006, winning 2-0 in Prague as Thierry Henry broke the club's goalscoring record and 3-0 back at Highbury.

But with lucrative entry to that stage at stake Miles insists the club will be taking the game very seriously.

He said: 'We won't take anything for granted and (manager) Arsene (Wenger) with his network of scouts will be doing his homework on Sparta Prague, he is very thorough in that respect.

'It is important for the club both financially and for the supporters to be playing in the group stages where you have got a guaranteed three home games and away games.

'It is paramount, the fans love to see European football at Emirates and hopefully we will deliver yet again.'

A tie with Toulouse awaits last season's finalists Liverpool and club secretary Bryce Morrison revealed his club were equally pleased with today's draw in Nyon.

'I think the draw could have been a lot worse for us, although it is not easy. The competition seems to be getting harder each year but yes we are happy with the draw.'

'The French League is strong, we know very, very little about them. It's a rugby town, it's new ground for us because we haven't played them before and new ground for them because it's the first time they have come into the competition at this stage.'

He added: 'They will be really up for it.'

The Reds, seeded for the draw alongside Arsenal, Celtic and Rangers, will first make the trip to France before the second leg a fortnight later at Anfield.

They have made the final in two of the last three seasons since Rafael Benitez's arrival, beating AC Milan in 2005 before the Rossoneri gained revenge in May.

And boosted by the summer arrivals of Fernando Torres, Ryan Babel, Yossi Benayoun and Andriy Voronin, Morrison is confident they can achieve similar success this season.

He told Sky Sports News: 'The manager has brought in some good new players and obviously he feels the squad is stronger.

'There is no reason we can't go all the way again. We have had a tremendous run in Europe under Rafael Benitez and there is no reason I see why that should change.'

Elsewhere, Celtic were handed a tricky tie with Spartak Moscow and Rangers will face Red Star Belgrade or Levadia Tallinn should they overcome FK Zeta in their second qualifying round. They hold a 2-0 lead after the first leg.

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