We look at Europa League opponents for Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Newcastle
Sky Sports takes a look at the sides Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Newcastle are up against.
By Oliver Todd
Last Updated: 20/12/12 3:46pm
With Sparta Prague, Zenit St Petersburg, Lyon and Metalist Kharkiv standing in the way of Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Newcastle, respectively, the draw throws up a mixture of old names and unknown quantities from across the continent.
Sky Sports provide a scouting report on each of these sides:
Sparta Prague (Chelsea)
Chelsea return to Petr Cech's former club for the first time since 2003, where they snatched a 1-0 victory courtesy of a late William Gallas goal. Since then, Chelsea have seen off eight managers, and much has changed for Sparta, too.
Sparta boast former Chelsea, Birmingham and Celtic midfielder Jiri Jarosik within their ranks, but otherwise their side is dominated by Czech nationals little known on these shores.
To reach this point in the competition, they finished above Athletic Bilbao in Group I - Bilbao played with rumoured Chelsea target Fernando Llorente in both games against the Reds, but after falling to a 3-1 defeat in the Czech capital and drawing 0-0 in the Czech capital, the side who were so impressive last year against Manchester United crashed out of the group.
Sparta's group stage success was mainly built on defensive stability - conceding the least goals of the four competing sides, whilst Chelsea will have to be on their guard to deal with Ladislav Krejčí, who scored in Lyon and against Israeli side Ironi Kiryat Shmona, and striker Léonard Kweuke, who has 14 goals in 29 games so far this season and has recently been replacing Samuel Eto'o in the Cameroon national squad.
Zenit St Petersburg (Liverpool)
Liverpool travel to Russia for the second time in the competition having played against mega-rich Anzhi Makhachkala in the group stage.
Zenit are hardly short of funds either - this summer they splashed the cash on Brazilian Hulk and Belgian Alex Witsel at a total cost exceeding £65million.
The Russian champions, like Chelsea, fall into the competition after finishing a disappointing third in their Champions League group, behind Malaga and AC Milan.
In terms of players to watch out for - aside from the big money signings of Hulk and Witsel - Euro 2012 flop Alexander Kerzhakov has 11 goals in 19 games so far this season and will look to add to that, particularly if Brendan Rogers continues to field a shadow side in this competition. The creative talents of captain Danny will be the key to Zenit's attacking play and whoever lines up against him for the Reds will be in for a tough time.
The trip to Lyon will be a familiar one to goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who joined Spurs from the French outfit this summer for a fee rising to £11.8million.
After winning the French Ligue 1 title seven times in a row between 2002 and 2008 and reaching a Champions League semi-final just over two years ago, Lyon have dropped out of the European eye to some extent.
To get to this stage, they took 16 points from a possible 18, only dropping two in a 1-1 draw at Sparta Prague. Nobody picked up as many points as Lyon in the group stage.
Today, the stars of the team are Yoann Gourcuff and Lisandro López, whilst Steed Malbranque's name in the Lyon squad will be familiar to many English fans following his stints at Fulham, Tottenham and Sunderland.
Metalist Kharkiv (Newcastle)
Despite topping their group ahead of European regulars Bayer Leverkusen, Metalist Kharkiv remain a somewhat unknown side amongst European audiences. Ranked as the 29th best side in Europe by UEFA - ahead of the likes of Tottenham, and Newcastle themselves - Metalist finished a respectable third in the Ukrainian league behind Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kyiv
Pardew has frequently put out weakened sides in the Europa League this season and is unlikely to relish a Thursday night trip to the Ukraine in the midst of a Premier League relegation battle.
Metalist last faced an English side when they played Everton in the 2007-08 UEFA Cup and were beaten 4-3 on aggregate. At the time, Everton boss David Moyes described Metalist as "very good team".
They topped their group ahead of Bayer Leverkusen with Cleiton Xavier grabbing five goals in six games - he will undoubtedly be the biggest threat to Newcastle's backline.