Who could Arsenal face in Champions League playoffs?

Sports Mole takes a look at who Arsenal could face in the Champions League final qualifying round.

Arsenal have not failed to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League since 1998, resulting in a 15-year period in Europe's elite competition.

Their participation for a 16th year looked in some doubt during the second half of last season, before they confirmed fourth position with a narrow victory over Newcastle United on the final day of the campaign.

However, before they can take their place in the main stages of the tournament, the Gunners must first negotiate themselves through the playoff round.

Below, Sports Mole lists who Arsenal could face as they bid to progress through the final qualifying round.


Ola Toivonen© PA Photos
PSV Eindhoven

PSV's stock in Holland has dropped slightly in recent years, with their last Eredivisie title coming in 2008.

They have also failed to qualify for the last four Champions League campaigns, with a quarter-final in the Europa League in 2011 being their best display during that time.

The threat of Philip Cocu's side cannot be discounted, however, with Swedish striker Ola Toivonen continuing to lead the line impressively in attack.

The Dutch side have also signed Under-21 star Adam Maher and Park Ji-Sung during the summer, and the Gunners would have to perform well to get past them should they face them in the playoffs.


Metalist Kharkiv boss Myron Markevich during the Europa League match against Newcastle on February 14, 2013© PA Photos
Metalist Kharkiv

Metalist Kharkiv are one of Ukraine's most consistent outfits, finishing in the top three of their domestic table for the past five seasons.

They are also no strangers to English supporters, having faced British opposition twice in the past seven seasons.

On both occasions, they have fallen to narrow aggregate defeats, with Everton emerging 4-3 victors in 2006, while Newcastle United ousted them 1-0 in last season's Europa League.

Kharkiv don't boast many star names, but they are capable of testing some of Europe's top teams on their day.


Fener's Caner Erkin celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal Lazio on April 11, 2013© AP Photos
Fenerbahce

Fenerbahce's participation in Europe this season had looked in some doubt after being originally being banned due to historical match-fixing allegations.

However, after beating Salzburg on Wednesday night, the Turkish giants could now lie in wait for Arsenal.

The Istanbul side have attracted many star names to the club in recent seasons, with Dirk Kuyt, Raul Meireles, Bruno Alves and Milos Krasic ready to face the Gunners should the draw pair the two teams together.

They also proved their European pedigree last season with a run to the semi-finals of the Europa League.


Sociedad striker Carlos Vela, when playing for Arsenal on July 30, 2011© AP Photos
Real Sociedad

Real Sociedad have enjoyed a remarkable rise in Spain during the past four years, earning promotion from the second division before establishing themselves as a mid-table outfit in La Liga.

However, last season saw La Real continue their rapid development by ousting the likes of Valencia and Malaga for fourth position in the league.

That earned them a Champions League place for the first time since 2003, and their improving side would see them pose a significant threat to Arsenal.

They also boast a former Gunner in their ranks, with striker Carlos Vela netting 14 goals last season to help them into Europe.


Champions League trophy© PA Photos
Pacos de Ferreira

Portuguese side Pacos de Ferreira would undoubtedly represent Arsenal's best chance of qualifying for the group stages.

The minnows have qualified for the Champions League for the first time in their history after finishing third behind Benfica and Porto last season.

Their best performance in a European competition came in 2007, when they reached the first round of the UEFA Cup, which highlights their standing as the most favourable draw to all of the seeded sides.

Middlesbrough failed in an attempt to sign Pacos midfielder Vitor Silva earlier in the summer.

Chico Flores and Theo Walcott battle for the ball during the FA Cup third round replay on January 16, 2013
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