PARIS Saint-Germain president Nasser Al Khelaifi has warned Chelsea that he expects his team to fare better than last season and knock the Blues out of the Champions League when they resume hostilities in February.
The two teams were yesterday drawn together in the last 16 of the competition in a repeat of a quarter-final tie from the previous campaign, in which Chelsea narrowly progressed.
Jose Mourinho’s men were just three minutes from elimination when now-departed striker Demba Ba scored against his boyhood team to level the tie at 3-3 and send the Blues through on away goals.
But Al Khelaifi made it clear that he expects his expensively assembled team, who were pipped to top spot in their group by Barcelona, to exact revenge on Mourinho’s Premier League pacesetters.
“Last year was an apprenticeship which must not be repeated,” he said. “Chelsea are a good draw for us. I am very confident. I’ve got confidence in my manager and in my players that they’ll show on the pitch the best of PSG.”
Last season Chelsea lost the first leg 3-1 in Paris but won 2-0 at home to advance to the last four, where they succumbed to an Atletico Madrid side featuring three players – Diego Costa, Filipe Luis and Thibaut Courtois – who moved to Stamford Bridge in the summer.
While the draw also paired Manchester City with Barcelona again it was kinder to Arsenal, who face a Monaco side that scored just four times on their way to winning their group and reaching the last 16.
The tie offers a long-awaited return to the principality for Gunners manager Arsene Wenger, who guided Monaco to the French top flight title and the domestic cup during seven years in charge.
Wenger also took them to the Champions League semi-finals in 1994, his last full season at the helm, where they lost to the great AC Milan team that would demolish Barcelona 4-0 in the final.
The Frenchman spoke fondly of the prospect of facing Monaco again at the weekend, saying “I would love to go there”. He added: “I’ve got great memories of Monaco because they gave me a chance when I was a very young manager. When I arrived they had never been past the first round in the European Cup so we have good memories. It is a fantastic place. That would be good.”
Tottenham, meanwhile, are set to face a host of former Premier League stars after being drawn against Fiorentina in the last 16 of the Europa League. The Italian side have Manchester City defender Micah Richards on loan and also boast his former team-mate Stefan Savic as well as former English-based trio Alberto Aquilani, Giuseppe Rossi and Borja Valero.
Besiktas, who qualified from the same Europa League group as Spurs, play Liverpool, while Everton face Swiss side Young Boys and Celtic drew Italian giants Inter Milan.