By Coral Barry
Arsenal worst fears have been realised after they were drawn to play Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League.
The draw in Switzerland on Monday morning also paired Chelsea with French champions Paris Saint-Germain for the third consecutive year, while Manchester City will face Dynamo Kiev.
PSG knocked Chelsea out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage last season but it is Arsenal who have been dealt the biggest hurdle to reaching the last eight of Europe’s biggest competition.
Holders Barcelona have swept all before them in 2015, with their front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar the envy of Europe’s elite.
Arsenal have been eliminated at the round of 16 in each of the previous five seasons, and were beaten by the Spanish giants at the same stage in 2011.
The draw comes after Mathieu Flamini identified Barcelona as the one team that Arsenal did not want to face in February’s first knockout stage, when the Champions League starts again.
“We obviously don’t want Barcelona as they are a top team but for the rest, we will see,” said the Frenchman in the aftermath of the Gunners’ against-the-odds 3-0 win at Olympiakos last Wednesday.