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Leeds vs. Norwich: All the 2s

The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Arsenal's Gazidis talks up London focus in UCL

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis believes there will be a London sub-plot to this year's Champions League as all three capital clubs look to book their place in the Wembley final.

With the showpiece due to be held at the national stadium for the first time since its redevelopment, Gazidis is sure there will be a big emphasis from his side as well as Tottenham and Chelsea on ensuring at least one local finalist.

''There is a real incentive for all English clubs, especially the London clubs,'' he told Sky Sports News. ''It's would be fantastic to play in the final in London and I know Spurs and Chelsea will feel the same way. There will probably be a mini competition within a competition there.''

When asked whether English sides might re-establish the dominance they had been showing on the European stage until last year's lesser showing in the final stages, he was equivocal.

''There are so many good teams in Europe. It was probably an aberration when we had three (English clubs) in the semi-final. It's probably more usual to have a more international competition.

''Looking at the calibre of some of the other European sides, it's going to be very tough. We probably won't see the days of three (English) teams in the semis again this year.''

Chelsea were treated relatively kindly by the draw and will face Marseille, Spartak Moscow and MSK Zilina in Group F. Director and club secretary David Barnard told Sky Sports News: ''We've got to be fairly happy with that.''

Barnard - who said Chelsea have no current signings in the offing - also hopes the fact the final is in England will be a spur.

''Since Wembley opened we've been there eight times now,'' he said. ''You like to play a final on foreign soil, obvsiously for our supporters and the occasion, but you never know, Wembley is a lucky omen for us and may well be this year.''

Manchester United chief executive David Gill is looking forward to one clash in particular, and said: ''There is the Rangers connection, we played them back in 2003-04 and Alex (Ferguson) and Walter Smith go back a long way.

''It will be a great atmosphere at Old Trafford and I remember when we played up there in 2003 and Phil Neville scored a fairly rare goal. It will be a great occasion, I've spoken to Sir Alex and he's looking forward to it.''

On the Red Devils' other opponents, he added: ''Valencia had a good season last season. We last played them in 2000, we've had five games against them and going out to Spain is always nice.

''You can talk yourself into (Bursaspor) seeming a long trip. That is the beauty of the competition, there are new teams again. We're looking forward to progressing to the knock-out stages.''

Gill played down the draw of the final being staged at Wembley, saying ''As you get nearer, the players would love to get to that but wherever the final is played it is a great occasion, it is always going to be a five-star stadium and moving it to a Saturday has enhanced the competition.''


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