Pre-Match: Arsenal vs. Porto

ARSENAL vs   PORTO

Farcical circumstances determined the outcome of Arsenal’s away-tie in their UEFA Champion’s League fixture versus Porto, but the Gunners have up their sleeves what could prove to be an all important away goal going into the Home Leg. However, if history were to repeat itself, such an away goal could prove to be redundant, as Arsenal gave FC Porto a right good 4-0 thrashing the last time the visitors came to The Emirates.

The game plan would seem more to Porto’s favour this time, as they enter the match with a one goal lead on aggregate, and will be looking for a vital away goal before most likely looking to shut up shop and frustrate the Gunners out of the game. Other pundits suggest that the reigning Portuguese Champions may look to protect their lead for 90 minutes; but looking to park the bus at The Emirates is never a good tactic.

Porto Striker Falcao believes his team have what it takes to cause an upset at The Emirates

Striker Falcao, who netted the winner in Portugal, is confident his team have what it takes to beat the Gunners, although he admits that Porto are underdogs going into the game.

“We are conscious of the team we have and of the capabilities of our squad and we have a strong desire and conviction that we can go through to the next round.”

On the eve of the game, let’s take a look at the relative strengths of both teams, and the tactics most likely to be employed.

FC PORTO’S GAMEPLAN:

I wouldn’t be surprised if manager Ferreira has had his team watching game like Arsenal vs. Manchester United and Chelsea vs. Arsenal from earlier in the season as an example of how his team should play this match. Porto have a lot of pace and they could counter attack dangerously, especially as Arsenal will need to push forward to ensure they score. Although we only need one goal, Porto could play 90 minutes of counter attacking, and we have to be careful not to over-committed; especially at set pieces.

OUR GAMEPLAN:

In the away-tie we saw that our tactics worked pretty well against Porto, and I don’t expect we will really need to employ anything different from the way we play our usual game. I don’t know a lot about the Porto defenders, but I think the return of Arshavin will obviously be a big boost and his pace and direct running could prove key. We will most likely spend the majority of the game in their half, so we should be careful to make sure we don’t get too obsessed with trying to pass it through the eye of the needle, as Porto obviously have a well organized defence, given their teams history both in the competition and domestically. I think our usual game should be enough to bury this match.

How could we lose this game?

I would say the same way we lost to Manchester United; over-committing and getting caught badly on the counter attack. The return of Song may be helpful in keeping our defensive structure, as he is always good at covering when the centre-backs are out of position. Campbell is also back for this game, according to Arsenal.com’s announcements, which is great news. The Vermaelen/Campbell combination was excellent in Portugal.

So let’s remember that neither of Porto’s goals were really deserved last time, and they got very, very lucky. I don’t think lightning can strike twice, to be honest, and we should put this one to bed as long as we don’t have another shocker. Almunia being back relieves a lot of stress too, as both goals we conceded last game were in no small part due to errors by Fabianski.

Can Arsenal get a result without Captain Fabtastic?

KEY MAN WATCH – Arsenal: I think Samir Nasri will be pulling the strings for us against Porto. The creative midfielder has been put forward by Wenger as the man to deputise in Fabregas’ role, and I’m expecting a very good performance from Nasri. He is a player who without a doubt has unbelievable talent and natural ability, but whose has never performed t the highest of his potential. I think he will come into his own in both the Premier League and Champion’s League over the next few months, and expect him to turn out a great performance against FC Porto with his great dribbling skills, passing and vision.

KEY MAN WATCH – Porto: Dynamic forward Falcao scored in the first lef against Arsenal, and could prove a problem if given too much space and time. Particularly, El Tigre’s speed and pacey acceleratino could work to help Porto on the counter attack. He is an excellent finisher with both his left and right feet, as well, and his record of 23 goals in 29 game sthis season speaks for itself.  In saying this, it would also be wise not to put the performance of Brazilian goalkeeper Helton in the first leg out of mind. Helton had an excellent game, and if he continues with that form, he could make Arsenal’s night a lot harder.

The Lineup:

I’m predicting a similar lineup to the one that turned out at Burnley. We looked creative in the 4-1-4-1 formation, and I think Wenger might go with this again. Of course, given Bendtner poor game, he may opt to go back to 4-3-3/4-5-1, but I think the Dane has the manager’s vote of confidence to continue alone up front. I think he will have a good game, too, and might bag one or two.

——————————————————Almunia—————————————————————
——————————————————————————————————————————–
——–Eboue——————–Campbell———————-Vermaelen————————Clichy————
——————————————————————————————————————————–
——————————————————–Song——————————————————————
——————————————————————————————————————————–
——————————————————————————————————————————–
——–Walcott——————–Nasri—————————Rosicky————————-Arshavin———-
——————————————————————————————————————————–
————————————————–Bendtner——————————————————————-
———————————————————————————————————————————

I like the Arshavin/Rosicky/Nasri combination, and think that this trio are one of the most creative in world football. Its great to have them all fit again, and hopefully they will appear in the starting lineup. The quick movement, dribbling, fast interchange passing and dropping into space should be too much for Porto to handle. They will be key to the win.

All the best for the game, everybody, and make sure you have your say on the forum before kickoff. I’ll be back with the post-match report as soon as possible, and hopefully with an Arsenal win to write about!

Curt.B

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Comments

  1. Austrian_Gooner says:

    Right that Arshavin-Nasri-Rosicky combination sounds promising but I would rather have Diaby in there, cause I think the three mentioned are a little too similar and Diaby just gives us another dimension physicallly and his forward bursts are key.

  2. g4l87 says:

    i agree with everything except line-up. diaby will most certainly start along with song and nasri in midfield. im thinking somethin like this

    alm
    sagna(eboue?) camp verm clichy
    diaby song nasri
    walcott bendt arshavin

    eboue over sagna i think would push porto even further back. that right side would be loaded with pace and trickery. have a tiny feeling bendtner will grab a brace. hope so! up the gunners! 3-0!

  3. BBking1 says:

    Good post. I think we will see both Diaby and Sagna in the starting lineup and Rosicky and Eboue on the bench..

  4. Andrew says:

    it will be Diaby instead of Rosicky.
    This will provide some muscle in our midfield and will also help out Song in defense.
    Rosicky might get the nod instead of Walcott since he’s played 3 games in a 1.5 week time.
    Other than a impressive line up that will win by 3 or 4-0.
    I have got my money on Arsenal
    Bring it On PORTO

  5. Lanre says:

    D visitors will b crushed to 4-1

  6. sorted says:

    Depends on which arsenal shows up. Can Nasri handle the pressure? Will Bendtner link up well with the others on the night. If not, our immaturity might be our undoing. Otherwise, I think 3-1 to the Arsenal and 2-0 by minute 65.

  7. Dan says:

    Diaby will start.

  8. Porto have vowed they will not change their attacking style for Tuesday’s crunch clash with Arsenal. But, for Gunners they need only a goal and make sure not conceded any to proceed.

    Arsenal are without key players Fabregas and Van Persie. By looking on the above concerns, it seems not a good idea to support Arsenal but the Gunners have won all the Champion League matches at Emirates stadium. I can see their home spirit and high motivation from London’s supporters. Arsenal will go… with a goal!

  9. Hpar says:

    Very interesting analysis.
    I know Arsenal very well and I agree with everything, except the line up:
    – Arsene has his tactical rules and there is NO WAY he is going to play with rosicky and nasri in the middle.
    – Nasri should be there to fill in Fabregas’ shoes, Song will be there cos he’s fresh, and Diaby will be there to compensate for Nasri’s petiteness.
    -Almost entirely sure Sagna will be at right back, thats why he was rested at the week end,
    -Walcott will probably be on the bench cos he’s played a lot of games lately.
    -Question marks on Arshavin cos Arsene himself said he wasnt fully fit, so dont know if he will start or not

    So big questions on the wingers, we have 4 players for 2 places: rosicky arshavin walcott and eboue can all play tonight, 3 of them played at the week end however arshavin is not fully fit so we have no way of knowing which ones arsene will go for.

    Apart from rosicky and arshavin the rest is 100% certain:

    ALMUNIA
    SAGNA
    CAMPBELL
    VERMAELEN
    CLICHY
    SONG
    DIABY
    NASRI
    ROSICKY/Walcott
    ARSHAVIN/Eboue
    BENDTNER

  10. Curt.B says:

    You were right about sagna but I was right about Nasri and Rosicky both playing.
    You were alos right about Walcott making way, and to update, Arshavin and Diaby are starting.

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