While the Premier League's representatives in the Champions League spluttered their way through their first knock-out ties, with Arsenal, Leicester City and Manchester City all having work to do to reach the quarter-finals, there is at least a partially positive story to tell in the Europa League. Though Tottenham Hotspur were dumped out of Europe for a second time this season Manchester United are alive and well as they continued their twin-pronged assault on qualifying for next season's premier European competition continues.

Winning the Europa League will ensure direct passage into the 2017-18 Champions League, and with a place in the top four in England's top division far from assured for Mourinho's side - United are sixth - the competition will rapidly start to become a priority. But what hurdles must they clear before they can begin dreaming of reaching the showcase final in Stockholm?

On Friday [24 February] at 12:00pm GMT United will make up one of the 16 sides in the draw for the next stage, with every team just six matches from the final in May. While many of the continent's heavyweight sides are in the Champions League, there remain a clutch of tricky possible opponents for the club who have never won the competition. Unlike the process for the group stage or last 32, the draw is open so sides from the same association can play each other - though an all-English clash is of course an impossibility.

The ties will take place on 9 and 16 March, either side of the FA Cup quarter-finals which sees United travel to Chelsea. IBTimes UK look at the best and worst possible scenario for the final Premier League representative in the competition ahead of the draw in Nyon.

Jose Mourinho
Mourinho will be hoping for some good fortune in the last 16. Getty Images

Who is in the Europa League last 16 draw?

Krasnodar, Schalke, Manchester United, Lyon, Borussia Monchengladbach, Genk, FC Rostov, FC Copenhagen, Shakhtar Donetsk, Gent, Olympiacos, Anderlecht, Roma, Apoel Nicosia, Besiktas, Ajax.

Best possible scenario for Manchester United?

Based on Uefa's coefficient rankings, which ranks each club on their performances in European competition over the past five seasons, FC Rostov are the easiest side on offer for United. The Russians beat Sparta Prague 5-1 on aggregate to reach the last 16 in one of the most one-sided ties in the first knock-out round.

Cyprus' Apoel Nicosia are the next side in the standings but are not to be taken lightly after they came from behind beat Athletic Bilbao 4-3 over two legs. Another Russian club in the form of FK Krasnodar are statistically the next club off the rank, yet trips to eastern Europe will not prove easy for Mourinho's side.

Worst possible scenario for Manchester United?

Though Roma's run of 10 wins in 11 games was ended by defeat to Villarreal, Luciano Spalletti's side are by far the most formidable opponent United could face in the last 16. The side from the Italian capital are second in Serie A and their pedigree on the continent means they will pose a real threat. Former Premier League players Wojciech Szczesny, Edin Dzeko, Mohammed Salah, Thomas Vermaelen and Federico Fazio will at least mean the opposition will not be alien to United's players.