FC Porto will shift their attention to the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds as they host Arsenal on Wednesday.

Arsenal are returning to the UEFA Champions League after a seven-year hiatus, while FC Porto will play a knockout game for the sixth time in those seven years. The Portuguese giants are firmly a regular fixture in the competition, and this time, they will have ambitions to advance.

In seven of the eight times they have faced English opposition in the knockout phase, Porto have been eliminated. That one time they progressed came in 2004 when they famously lifted the coveted trophy under the stewardship of a confident Jose Mourinho.

Porto are in this round courtesy of a routine second-placed finish in their group, which Barcelona topped. Having accumulated 12 points in their six games there, the Portuguese outfit felt free of pressure in their bid to make it into the next round, where they now face Arsenal.

Mikel Arteta will want a superb performance on the club’s return to the big stage and among the European elites in the Champions League. After a seven-year hiatus, the Gunners are already considered the third or fourth favourites to win this season’s competition, but they need to prove that on the pitch.

The Gunners are in a supreme vein of form and exactly where Arteta might have envisaged them ahead of such a crucial Champions League clash. Having scored 21 goals in their last five league games, Arsenal are one of the in-form clubs in Europe, as they travel to FC Porto.

Mikel Arteta will aim to make it three away wins in a row with the scalp of Porto, although the last time Arsenal faced the Portuguese outfit, they lost. This time around, things are different, as the Gunners are a much stronger unit and are in this competition to win it.

Team News & Tactics

FC Porto

Porto’s win at the weekend against Estrela came at a considerable cost, as left-back Zaidu Sanusi suffered an ACL tear and will now miss the remainder of the season and beyond. The Nigerian is the second such casualty this season, with fellow defender Ivan Marcano also suffering from a similar problem earlier. However, there are slim hopes that he will return before the season ends.

As a result, Sergio Conceicao should call upon Jorge Sanchez to his defensive setup, and he should take that vacant left-back slot. Striker Mehdi Taremi is another one set to miss this clash with a thigh injury, which has seen him miss the most recent training session.

There are also concerns over midfielder Stephen Eustaquio, who was absent for the weekend’s clash. Conceicao will choose Alan Varela, who completed the full 90 against Estrela, should he miss it. Beyond that, Porto will likely undergo fewer changes to their personnel, as injury issues force the manager to make the necessary altercations.

At the back, 40-year-old veteran Pepe will undoubtedly start the clash, while in midfield, Varela will have Pepe Aquino and Nico Gonzalez on either side. Porto will rely on Evanilson to lead the line and get the goals, with the Brazilian set to have Francisco Conceicao and Galeno in support from the wide areas.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Costa; Mario, Pepe, Otavio, Sanchez; Aquino, Varela, Gonzalez; Conceicao, Evanilson, Galeno


Mikel Arteta is not expecting many changes to his squad that beat Burnley at the weekend, with the manager set to be without the same set of injured stars. This means that the likelihood of the likes of Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko returning is slim, while Takehiro Tomiyasu’s status may not have changed either.

Thomas Partey and Fabio Vieira have been in training, which certainly boosts Arsenal’s squad. However, there is little chance of Arteta involving the duo from the get-go, although if the Gunners manage to take a solid lead, then a few minutes in the end might seem possible.

Beyond that, Arteta might name a similar eleven that beat Burnley, although there are suggestions that the manager might look for a way to include Jorginho. The Italian international last started in the win over Liverpool, and should he come into the picture, Kai Havertz might see the face of the bench.

Ideally, Arteta might stick with the same lineup with two huge away wins under their belt and should have no reasons to change that. Hence, Arsenal could name the same lineup to take on Porto away from home.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Raya; Ben White, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior; Odegaard, Rice, Trossard; Saka, Havertz, Martinelli

Key Stats

  • FC Porto have been eliminated seven out of the eight times they have faced an English side in the knockout phases.
  • FC Porto have not lost to Arsenal at home in their last three games against the North Londoners.
  • Arsenal have scored 21 goals in their last five games, with 11 in consecutive away games leading to the visit to FC Porto.
  • Bukayo Saka has three goals and four assists in six UEFA Champions League games this season.
  • Only Real Sociedad qualified from the group stages with a better defensive record than Arsenal.

Player to Watch

Bukayo Saka

Embed from Getty Images

The English winger is bang in form ahead of this crucial game with FC Porto. Saka finished the group stages as one of the best performers in the UEFA Champions League as he gears up to add to his tally and become one of the top players this season.

Saka has recently scored braces against West Ham United and Burnley to cement himself as one of the in-form players in Europe, and now he has a big chance to keep that motion going against Porto. Arsenal will need another big team performance, and when the squad plays well, the English international has to be at the centre of it.


FC Porto 0-2 Arsenal

FC Porto might have hoped to hold on to their unbeaten streak at home against Arsenal for a bit longer. But they are facing the Gunners at the wrong time. The Portuguese giants will come into this clash as second favourites and may face an in-form side coached by Mikel Arteta at the peak of their powers.

With Arsenal scoring 11 times in their last two away games, Arteta will want the same form to continue on the European stage. The North Londoners are hungry for continental success and will look for a big win when they travel to Portugal. The Hard Tackle predicts Arsenal to beat FC Porto 2-0 on Wednesday.

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