Arsenal vs Porto: Champions League preview, team news & prediction

By on March 11, 2024

Arsenal celebrations

Arsenal need to turn things around when we take on Porto in the second leg of our Champions League last-16 tie at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night.

Despite dominating for much of the game in Portugal three weeks ago, Arsenal struggled to create clear-cut opportunities and were made to pay the ultimate price. With just seconds remaining on the clock and the game heading to a 0-0 draw, Arsenal gave away possession three times in the space of just 30 seconds. Gabriel Martinelli’s attempted long-range pass was intercepted and Galeno curled home a stunning strike in the 94th minute to win it for Porto.

It was cruel on Arsenal as we didn’t deserve to lose the game, but it was a valuable lesson in elite level knockout football. We certainly weren’t at our best in the first leg and failed to create anything of note in the final third – which was a huge surprise given our goal-scoring form over the past three months. However, the first rule of knockout football is if you can’t win the first leg, DON’T lose it. Arsenal just had to keep hold of the ball for the final few seconds and take home a useful 0-0 draw.

Now, we need to come from behind and beat Porto convincingly at the Emirates Stadium to progress to the quarter-finals. It’s not going to be easy, especially now that Porto have a lead to hold on to. We saw their tactics in the first leg at home, where they time wasted, play acted and made constant tactical fouls to put us off our game. Unfortunately, now they are leading 1-0 in the tie, I expect those tactics to be much worse tomorrow night.

Things to come

We got a taste of things to come against Brentford at the weekend as the Bees used similar tactics to frustrate Arsenal on Saturday evening. After Declan Rice had put us ahead with a first half header, it looked like we were cruising to another routine win. However, Aaron Ramsdale’s error gifted Brentford an undeserved equaliser on the stroke of half-time. He took too long to made a simple clearance and his kick eventually rebounded off Wissa into an empty net to make it 1-1.

The second half was painful to watch at times as Brentford stifled Arsenal with tactics that Porto would be proud of. Over the course of the 90+ minutes, the ball was in play less than 50% of the time – which is a disgrace. I expect something similar on Tuesday night though. Thankfully, Arsenal still managed to find a way to grab a late winner against Brentford. Kai Havertz continued his fine form with an 88th minute header to make it 2-1 and move us top of the Premier League table.

With Liverpool and Manchester City drawing 1-1 at Anfield on Sunday, Arsenal remain top on goal difference from Liverpool, with City just one point behind in third. It couldn’t be any tighter at the top of the table and it looks like we’re in for one of the most exciting title races in recent history. Not many are giving Arsenal much hope of coming out on top, but that may work in our favour as there is less pressure and expectation on the players compared to last season.

Anyway, we need to put the title race to the back of our mind and focus on Porto. They head to London having won 3 and drawn the other of their four games since the first leg. After thrashing Benfica 5-0, they won 3-0 away to Portimonsense on Friday night to remain third in the league standings, so they come into the game in fine form.

How to watch

The game will be shown live on TNT Sports, kicking off at 8pm on Tuesday 12th March. Subscribers can watch along via their TV, or through the TNT Sports app on mobile or tablet devices.

Just over 60,000 lucky fans will be able to take in all the action live at the Emirates. The game is already sold out but supporters can still buy Arsenal vs Porto tickets through trusted online resellers such as seatsnet.com.

Team news

Arsenal will need to assess Gabriel Martinelli after he missed the Brentford game due to a nasty cut to his foot that he sustained last weekend. The Brazilian was spotted at the Emirates on crutches on Saturday evening but hopefully that was just a precaution to take pressure off the foot and allow the cut to heal.

Oleksandr Zinchenko made his long-awaited return from injury at the weekend. He came off the bench after recovering from a calf injury so he’s in contention to start on Tuesday night – although Jacub Kiwior could still keep his place at left-back.

Takehiro Tomiyasu is still recovering from a calf injury that he picked up while away at the AFCON in January. Jurrien Timber is back in full training but still needs to build up his fitness having been out since August.

Porto will still be without Zaidu Sanusi and Ivan Marcano but Wendell should return from a knock. Gabriel Veron is also out with an Achilles injury but striker Mehdi Taremi is back from a thigh issue.

Likely line-ups

Arsenal will welcome David Raya back after he was ineligible to play against Brentford at the weekend. Ramsdale will drop to the bench following his horror-mistake.

It will be interesting to see if Zinchenko comes in at left-back now that he’s fit, while Thomas Partey is also pushing for a recall in midfield having made a few appearances off the bench lately.

Gabriel Jesus could come in for Leandro Trossard on the left wing if Martinelli fails to recover from his cut. Havertz should have done enough to keep his place after scoring the winner on Saturday.

Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes, William Saliba and Declan Rice are all guaranteed starters along with Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka.

Likely Arsenal XI: Raya; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior; Jorginho, Rice, Odegaard; Saka, Havertz, Jesus

Likely Porto XI:  Costa; Mario, Pepe, Otavio, Wendell; Varela, Gonzalez; Conceicao, Pepe, Galeno; Evanilson


Arsenal need to come flying out the blocks and try to grab an early goal. The longer it stays 0-0 the more Porto are going to sit back and time waste. We need to play high intensity football with plenty of movement off the ball to open them up. We’ve done that well over the last few months, so hopefully we see Arsenal on top form tomorrow as we have the quality to rip them apart.

However, Porto are experienced customers at this level, and with Pepe marshalling the defence and the master of ‘street wise’ football, I’m expecting a tense game. Hopefully Arsenal can keep things tight at the back and score at least two goals at the other end. Arsenal 2-0 Porto [Arsenal progress 2-1 on aggregate]