MX23RW : Wednesday, April 14 14:15:57| >> :120:3936:3936:

Who could Arsenal face in Champions League qualifying draw?

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

After edging out Everton for fourth place in the Premier League table last season, Arsenal must compete in the final qualifying round of the Champions League if they want to progress through to Europe's premier competition.

With the 'Champions' route being introduced a few years ago, the passage for those who ended their respective domestic campaigns in the final qualification spot has been made much tougher, and the Gunners could be handed a tricky tie in tomorrow's draw.

Below, Sports Mole takes a look at the five opponents that Arsene Wenger's side could face as they attempt to reach the group stages for the 17th successive year.

1. Athletic Bilbao

In a year where much of the focus was on the dramatic three-way fight for the La Liga title, the exploits of Athletic Bilbao almost went unnoticed as they secured a Champions League spot for the first time in 15 years.

During that period, they competed numerous times in the UEFA Cup and Europa League, where they were runners-up in 2012, but after the club were forced to move on after the departure of striker Fernando Llorente, they've rebuilt a squad to contend below the three giants in Spain.

Athletic Bilbao's players celebrate a goal during the Spanish league football match Athletic Bilbao vs Rayo Vallecano at the San Mames stadium in Bilbao on December 22, 2013© Getty Images

Bilbao, lead by Ernesto Valverde, followed up a 12th-place finish in 2013 by ending the last campaign in fourth place, losing just eight games along the way as they finished seven points above their nearest rivals.

Los Leones have seen Ander Herrera leave for Manchester United, but with Aritz Aduriz proving an able replacement for Llorente over the past two years, this would undoubtedly be Arsenal's toughest fixture of the five possibilities.

2. Lille

With the free-spending Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco doing as expected and finishing in the top two of Ligue 1 last year, it was deemed as a success when Lille managed to secure third place behind France's stellar teams.

Rene Girard has put together a rigid, well-drilled team in his 12 months at the club, but while their European opposition will be wary of a formidable defence that conceded just 26 goals last season, it's their attacking options that will create the most significant worries over the two legs.

Divock Origi, who impressed for Belgium at the World Cup, has returned to the club after signing with Liverpool, while Salomon Kalou has netted almost a goal every two games during his time in France.

3. Besiktas

Besiktas are no strangers to European football after a prolonged period in the upper echolons of Turkish football, but it has been four years since they featured in the Champions League group stages.

During that time, a last-16 appearance in the Europa League is their best result, and coach Slaven Bilic will be keen to see his team make an impact away from their domestic participation.

Swansea's Angel Rangel and Chelsea's Demba Ba in actionduring the Premier League match on April 13, 2014© Getty Images

Kara Kartallar have been boosted with the summer addition of Chelsea striker Demba Ba, and if Arsenal are given a two-legged tie with Besiktas, he is likely to pose plenty of problems for the North London outfit.

4. Standard Liege

Standard Liege showed that they are a team on the up by ending the regular season in Belgium in first place, but they were unable to win their domestic title after recording just four wins from 10 games in the league playoffs.

However, the runners-up spot was enough to earn them a place in the final qualifying round, but they will have to upset the odds if they are to overcome one of the seeded teams in the draw.

Tony Watt will be well known to British football supporters for scoring the winning goal for Celtic against Barcelona in 2012, but other than the Scottish forward, Guy Luzon's team doesn't contain any players that will strike much fear in the opposition.

5. Copenhagen

The Danish side have long been considered as one of the first-tier minnows of European football, but they proved last year that they have what it takes to take on some of the best teams in the competition.

A 1-1 draw with Juventus and a 1-0 victory over Galatasaray ensured that they remained in contention for a place in the knockout stages going into the final group fixture, but a 2-0 home defeat to eventual winners Real Madrid put paid to their aspirations.

Cardiff's Andreas Cornelius in action against Cheltenham during a friendly match on July 27, 2013© Getty Images

However, Stale Solbakken, who briefly coached Wolverhampton Wanderers in the second part of 2012, is slowly reproducing the togetherness that saw the Danes draw with Barcelona and beat Manchester United in his previous reign with the club and they will be no pushovers for any of the seeded teams.

Copenhagen have been hit with the retirement of Olof Mellberg, but the return of striker Andreas Cornelius, who flopped at Cardiff City, will provide them with a greater threat in attack.

ID:169922: cacheID:169922:1false2false3false:QQ:: from db desktop :LenBod:restore:9411:
Restore Data
Share this article now:
Did you know...?
Lille's Ivorian forward Salomon Kalou celebrates after scoring with his teammate Lille's French midfielder Jonathan Delaplace during the French L1 football match Lorient vs Lille on May 17, 2014
Read Next:
Girard uncertain on Kalou's Lille future

rhs 2.0
Todays Game Header Right
1Manchester CityMan City32235467234474
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd31189461342763
3Leicester CityLeicester31175955371856
4West Ham UnitedWest Ham31167851391255
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs311471052351749
10Leeds UnitedLeeds31143144949045
11Aston Villa301351243331044
12Wolverhampton WanderersWolves31108133141-1038
13Crystal Palace31108133352-1938
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton31712123338-533
17Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3188153251-1932
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom3159172859-3124
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd3142251755-3814

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!