When Cesc Fabregas leads Arsenal out for the first time tonight, the new Club captain and his team-mates will know that victory over Dynamo Kyiv will book their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.
At first glance, a 0-0 draw would appear to be enough to take Arsenal through as well. This result would give Arsenal nine points, thus preventing Fenerbahce from catching them. It would also give them a better head-to-head record than Kyiv on the away-goals rule (after a 1-1 draw in Ukraine), which, with a three-point lead and one match remaining, would also make them uncatchable by Kyiv.
However, it is possible that a goalless draw would NOT be enough. Read on to find out why:
A goalless draw tonight would not suffice if Arsenal ended up in a three-way tie on nine points with Kyiv and Porto after Matchday Six. And the only way this can happen - should Arsenal v Kyiv finish 0-0 - is if Porto (currently on six points) lose at Fenerbahce and then beat Arsenal, and Kyiv also win at home to Fenerbahce.
In this instance, the three-way head-to-head (i.e. excluding results against Fenerbahce) would favour Porto, who, with six points from the four games against their two rivals as opposed to five points each for Arsenal and Kyiv, would win the group.
With Porto out of the equation, the first criteria used to determine whether Arsenal or Kyiv take the runners-up spot would be goal difference. Arsenal would go into Matchday Six with the advantage over Kyiv but a five-goal defeat in Porto would give Kyiv an overall superior goal difference over the four relevant matches.
To sum up: a draw tonight would leave Arsenal on the brink of qualification. But a win would make it far more simple.
|2. FC Porto||4||2||0||2||5||7||6|
|3. FC Dynamo Kyiv||4||1||2||1||3||3||5|