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Porto
Champions League | Round of 16 | 1st Leg
Feb 21, 2024 at 8pm UK
Estadio Do Dragao
Arsenal logo

Porto
1 - 0
Arsenal

Galeno (90+4')
Conceicao (52'), Conceicao (52'), Gonzalez (62')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Rice (2'), Kiwior (57'), Havertz (61')

Preview: Porto vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Champions League clash between Porto and Arsenal, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Ending a seven-year exile from the Champions League knockout stages, Arsenal board the plane to Portugal for the first leg of their last-16 affair with Porto on Wednesday evening.

The Gunners topped Group B to set up a reunion with Sergio Conceicao's team, who sneaked into the knockout rounds via a second-placed finish in Group H behind Barcelona.


Match preview

Porto coach Sergio Conceicao reacts on January 14, 2024© Reuters

With both Benfica and Braga forced to continue their continental campaigns in the Europa League owing to third-placed finishes in the Champions League group stage, Porto are the only Portuguese team left standing in Europe's elite competition, reaching the elimination rounds for the sixth time in the last seven seasons.

Group H largely followed the script, as Porto clinched second place behind Barcelona thanks to four wins from four against Royal Antwerp and Shakhtar Donetsk, and even though they possessed a superior goal difference to the La Liga champions, their inferior head-to-head record saw them settle for the runners-up spot.

On account of their 12-point haul, the Primeira Liga titans have another chance to right several wrongs in the Champions League, having failed to progress further than the last eight since the 1993-94 tournament, and their 2022-23 tournament ended at this stage courtesy of a 1-0 aggregate loss to Inter Milan.

Seven of Porto's last eight Champions League knockout ties against English opposition have also seen the Portuguese outfit eliminated, although the one time they did manage to send a Premier League team packing - sinking Manchester United in the last 16 in 2004 - they famously went on to conquer the continent.

Fast-forward 20 years, and Conceicao's team host Arsenal on a 10-game unbeaten run across all tournaments at the Estadio do Dragao, most recently easing past Estrela Amadora 2-0 in Saturday's Primeira Liga affair, which saw the Dragons record their fifth successive clean sheet on home turf.

In addition, Porto's last two home affairs in the Champions League have seen the Primeira Liga powerhouses notch seven goals - the same amount that they had amassed in their previous nine such affairs altogether - although shipping three to Shakhtar Donetsk saw them concede more in that one contest than any of their previous five UCL home games combined.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta celebrates after the match on February 11, 2024© Reuters

Throughout their 10-match unbeaten streak in front of their own fans, Porto's defence has been breached just five times, but a merciless Arsenal came up with an identical number of strikes in just 90 minutes during a rain-soaked Premier League affair with Burnley on Saturday afternoon.

One week on from decimating West Ham United 6-0 - setting a new club record for their biggest Premier League away win - the free-scoring Gunners earned another slice of history at Turf Moor, winning their first five league games of a calendar year for the first time in their illustrious 138-year history.

Gooners have celebrated a staggering 21 goals in five Premier League games since Arsenal flew home from a highly worthwhile Dubai training camp, and the prospect of an unforeseen top-flight and Champions League double remains alive for Mikel Arteta's troops, who returned to the Champions League with a bang.

Sevilla, Lens and PSV Eindhoven did not exactly provide glamorous opposition, but the Gunners stuck to the task at hand and sealed top spot with a game to spare, while conceding a mere four goals across their six games; only Real Sociedad (two) qualified for the last 16 with a better defensive record.

Each of those four strikes to fly past Arsenal came away from home, though, and the Gunners have been plagued by the last-16 hoodoo ever since the 2010-11 campaign, suffering seven straight eliminations at this stage before their stint in the Europa League doldrums.

However, the last time that the Gunners reached the quarter-finals in the 2009-10 season, they earned their ticket thanks to a 6-2 aggregate thrashing of Porto in the last 16, although they are still awaiting their first-ever away win versus the Portuguese powerhouses.

Porto Champions League form:


Porto form (all competitions):


Arsenal Champions League form:


Arsenal form (all competitions):


Team News

Arsenal's Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring their first goal on January 28, 2024© Reuters

Porto's triumph over Estrela at the weekend was not quite the perfect evening for Conceicao, as left-back Zaidu Sanusi was stretchered off in the 32nd minute with a complete anterior cruciate ligament rupture, ruling the Nigerian out for the remainder of the campaign.

Sanusi is one of two Dragons defenders nursing ACL injuries - Ivan Marcano only has a slim chance of coming back before the end of the campaign - and Conceicao should call upon Jorge Sanchez to join the hosts' defensive shield, which still holds 40-year-old veteran Pepe.

The availability of midfield fulcrum Stephen Eustaquio is also unclear after the Canadian missed the recent success over Estrela, but Alan Varela at least battled back from discomfort to see out the full 90.

Ahead of an anticipated free transfer to Inter Milan this summer, Mehdi Taremi has also been ruled out with an adductor problem, so Evanilson - scorer of four goals in five group-stage games and 19 overall for the 2023-24 season - will lead the line.

As far as Arsenal are concerned, Emile Smith Rowe was back from an ankle concern in time to make the bench against Burnley, but none of Gabriel Jesus (knee), Oleksandr Zinchenko (calf) or Takehiro Tomiyasu (knock) were given the green light to play and remain doubtful.

Jurrien Timber is also on the mend from an ACL injury, although he has been named in the Gunners' squad for the knockout rounds, while Thomas Partey (thigh) and Fabio Vieira (groin) are closing in on comebacks from operations and were seen in team training on Tuesday.

Vieira is in with a chance of turning out against his former club, having been pictured boarding the plane alongside his teammates, but any appearance for the Portuguese is sure to come from the bench, as Arteta has no need to alter his in-form XI.


Porto possible starting lineup:
Costa; Mario, Pepe, Otavio, Sanchez; Varela, Gonzalez; Conceicao, Pepe, Galeno; Evanilson

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Raya; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior; Odegaard, Rice, Havertz; Saka, Trossard, Martinelli


SM words green background

We say: Porto 1-3 Arsenal

As admirable as Porto's home defensive record is, Arsenal's astonishing attacking exploits since the turn of the year - particularly away from home - suggests that the Dragons' rearguard nous may count for little if the Gunners' offensive line is on song once again.

Porto will no doubt prove stiffer opposition than West Ham and Burnley, and the Gunners have traditionally struggled for results at the Estadio do Dragao, but we have faith in Arteta's men to capitalise on the hosts' injury problems at the back and return to North London with a healthy first-leg advantage.


For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.


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Game History

How you voted: Porto vs Arsenal

Porto
11.0%
Draw
8.8%
Arsenal
80.2%
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Group A

TeamPWDLPTS
QBayern651016
QCopenhagen62228
3Galatasaray61235
4Man Utd61144

Group B

TeamPWDLPTS
QArsenal641113
QPSV62319
3Lens62228
4Sevilla60242

Group C

TeamPWDLPTS
QReal Madrid660018
QNapoli631210
3Braga61144
4Union Berlin60242

Group D

TeamPWDLPTS
QReal Sociedad633012
QInter Milan633012
3Benfica61144
4Salzburg61144

Group E

TeamPWDLPTS
QAtletico642014
QLazio631210
3Feyenoord62046
4Celtic61144

Group F

TeamPWDLPTS
QDortmund632111
QPSG62228
3AC Milan62228
4Newcastle61235

Group G

TeamPWDLPTS
QMan City660018
QRB Leipzig640212
3Young Boys61144
4Red Star60151

Group H

TeamPWDLPTS
QBarcelona640212
QPorto640212
3Shakhtar63039
4Antwerp61053


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