Former Arsenal striker believes the draw pitting the North Londoners against Bayern Munich is not all doom and gloom.
Finishing second in their Champions League group in what became a nail-biting finish was perhaps an omen in what would always result in an, on-paper, much tougher draw in the knockout stages when the competition resumes in 2014.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger may even have secretly been hoping for Paris Saint German, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona or Real Madrid when the announcement was made earlier today in Nyon, Switzerland, however, the Gunners are tasked with the challenge of defeating last season's tournament winners Bayern Munich, the side who eliminated them in March.
'Wenger and his players knew whoever they got would be tough, it's a repeat of last year where they were taught a lesson and the tie was effectively over,' assessed European Cup Winners Cup winner Alan Smith to Sky Sports, who also pocketed an FA Cup winners medal and two domestic league titles during his spell at Highbury.
He continued: 'Bayern Munich were superb in North London but yes, Arsenal went over to Allianz Arena and did really well to get the 2-0 win.'
Arsene Wenger saw his side came unstuck at home in February when two early goals, from Toni Kroos then Thomas Muller, provided Arsenal with an ultimately insurmountable challenge.
Lukas Podolski got one back for his team, against his former club, but Mario Mandzukic restored a two-goal cushion before the second leg a month later, where Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny gave the Gunners hope but held on to a 3-3 aggregate score that was enough to see Bayern through on the away goal ruling.
Smith believes that Arsenal have improved markedly since that Champions League examination and, if they are on form in both matches this time round, then there is no reason why they cannot do better, particularly as they are now far tighter at the back.
'[Remember] this was in the day when Arsenal weren't defending as well as they are this season so that should give them encouragement.'
He added: '[Manager] Pep Guardiola is under pressure to retain the trophy and to do it in a different way. I don't know how you stop Bayern but Arsenal at their best can score against most sides and I hope they do it in Munich.'
image: © wonker