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Champions League preview: Porto vs Arsenal, team news, line-ups and prediction

By on February 20, 2024

Ben White

Arsenal will look to take their excellent domestic form into Europe when we take on Porto in the first leg of our Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday night.

After a difficult end to 2023, Arsenal have returned from their winter break with a bang. A 5-0 thumping of Crystal Palace was followed by a hard fought 2-1 win away to Nottingham Forest. The Gunners then fired themselves back into title contention after beating leaders Liverpool 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium.

Mikel Arteta’s men followed that up with a superb performance to thrash West Ham 6-0 at the London Stadium before putting five past Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday. Back-to-back away wins with a combined score of 11-0 is sensational stuff from Arsenal and there is no doubt we’re one of the most in-form teams in Europe right now.

Five consecutive victories has seen us close the gap on Liverpool to just two points and we’ve also now got the best goal difference in the league. Arsenal sit second – two points above Man City but they have a game in hand, so it couldn’t be tighter at the top of the Premier League table. One thing is for certain though, and that’s Arsenal are right in the mix and hitting form at just the right time.

Unlike last season – when Arsenal only had the league to worry about – we also have the small matter of a Champions League last-16 tie to contend with this campaign. After breezing through the group stages and finishing top of Group B, Arsenal were rewarded with a draw against Porto. It was a favourable draw considering we avoided some of the big guns, but we cannot underestimate Porto.

The Portuguese giants finished second in Group H ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk and Antwerp. They finished level on points with Barcelona and had a better goal difference, but missed out on top spot due to their head-to-head record.

Arsenal will know Porto will be strong in the first leg at the Estadio do Dragao, so the aim should be to bring home a positive result and finish the job at the Emirates Stadium next month.

How to watch

The game will be broadcast live on TNT Sports, kicking off at 8pm UK time on Wednesday February 21st. Subscribers will be able to watch all the action live via the TNT Sports app on TV, mobile or tablet.

Getting hold of Champions League tickets has been extremely difficult for Arsenal fans this season as supporters have been desperate to see them back in Europe’s elite competition. Arsenal’s away allocation sold out quickly but fans may get lucky and find tickets at reputable online resellers.

Team news

Arsenal still have a lengthy injury list to contend with heading into the game but Arteta will hope to get some players back for the trip to Portugal.

Oleksandr Zinchenko has missed the last four games with a calf injury that he sustained against Liverpool. The left-back will be assessed but remains a doubt for the game against Porto on Wednesday.

Gabriel Jesus was reportedly close to making his return for the Burnley game at the weekend after missing the last few games with a knee injury. Arsenal’s medical staff will give him every opportunity to prove his fitness for the trip to Porto.

Fabio Vieira is on the verge of making his comeback from groin surgery that he underwent back in November. The attacking midfielder could be back in the squad tomorrow but a place on the bench is the best he can hope for.

Takehiro Tomiyasu returned from the Asian Cup with a knock and has missed Arsenal’s last two games. The injury isn’t serious so Tomiyasu could return to contention for the Champions League clash if he passes a late fitness test.

Thomas Partey is progressing well from his latest injury after suffering a setback earlier this month. The midfielder was on the verge of making his long-awaited comeback from a thigh injury but picked up a fresh problem in training and is expected to be out until early March.

Jurrien Timber is making good progress in his rehabilitation from an ACL injury that he suffered on the opening weekend of the season. The Dutchman is hoping to be back in training soon but is still unavailable for selection.

As for Porto, they also have injury concerns in defence to deal with as left-back Zaidu Sanusi is the latest player on the treatment table. Ivan Marcano is also a major doubt while Stephen Eustaquio could miss out tomorrow.

Likely line-ups

Arteta is unlikely to tinker too much after two superb away wins. David Raya will start once again in goal while Ben White will continue at right-back. William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes will continue their excellent partnership in the middle of Arsenal’s defence.

Zinchenko and/or Tomiyasu may be back in contention if they overcome their injuries, however, Jacub Kiwior could keep his place at left-back after putting in some excellent performances lately.

Declan Rice will keep his place in midfield while Martin Odegaard will captain the Arsenal squad once again. Jorginho is pushing for a recall and we could see him come into the midfield to offer the Gunners more control in a tough away game.

However, it would be harsh to drop any of the team that’s led Arsenal to 5-0 and 6-0 wins in the last two games. Leandro Trossard has scored in both those victories and could keep his place in attack, while Kai Havertz is growing into his role and scored a lovely goal at the weekend. So we could see both Trossard and Havertz keeping their places tomorrow.

Bukayo Saka is in superb form and scored another brace at the weekend so no doubt he’ll start on the right flank once again. Gabriel Martinelli could also keep his place on the left flank meaning the likes of Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson remain on the bench.

Jesus and Vieira could hopefully return to the squad to give Arteta more attacking options from the bench if they pass late fitness tests.

Prediction

Porto will pose a tough task at home as they rarely lose in front of their passionate fans at the Estadio do Dragao and there should be an intimidating atmosphere tomorrow night. They have been tight at the back having conceded just five goals in their last 10 home games so this won’t be a walk in the park for the Gunners.

However, Arsenal come into the game firing on all cylinders off the back of two sensational away performances so they should be confident of getting a positive result. I expect a much tighter game than the last two away trips, but back Arsenal to edge a narrow win. Porto 1-2 Arsenal

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