United and Arsenal among Champions League top seeds

ARSENAL and Manchester United have retained their place among the elite group of top seeds for this season’s Champions League despite a shake-up in UEFA’s seeding system.

However, both Chelsea and Liverpool will almost certainly have to settle for being one of the second seeds.

It means that Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson know they will avoid any of the four Spanish sides and reigning champions Porto.

The Gunners and Chelsea are already in the hat for the draw in Monaco on August 26, with United and Liverpool needing to win a two-legged qualifier to join them.

UEFA have changed their co-efficient system this summer to give more weight to an individual club’s performances in Europe.

The biggest effect has been on Liverpool, who have played in Europe’s top club competition only twice in the last five years.

United are ranked fourth in Europe, behind Spanish trio Real Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona. Next come Bayern Munich, Deportivo La Coruna, Arsenal and Porto. These clubs are in the top-seeded pot, although Real, United and Deportivo all need to qualify.

Chelsea and Liverpool will be among the second seeds along with Italian clubs AC Milan, Juventus, Roma and Inter. Celtic and, should they qualify, Rangers are likely to be among the third pot of seeds.

Meanwhile, UEFA confirmed that the draw for the third qualifying round of the Champions League will see seeded sides drawn against unseeded teams. As a result, United and Liverpool will not face the likes of Real Madrid or Juventus but one of the smaller clubs.

UEFA’s club co-efficients 2004-05: 1 Real Madrid* 146.35, 2 Valencia 139.35, 3 Barcelona 134.35, 4 Manchester United* 119.51, 5 Bayern Munich 105.33, 6 Deportivo La Coruna* 104.35, 7 Arsenal 103.51, 8 Porto 99.99, 9 AC Milan 99.53, 10 Liverpool* 90.51, 11 Juventus* 84.53, 12 Internazionale* 82.53, 13 Roma 78.53, 14 Lyon 70.95, 15 Chelsea 67.51.

Others: 19 Celtic 60.60, 25 Rangers* 42.60.

* = have to qualify.

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