Arsenal team news: Mikel Arteta may drops two players for Porto Champions League clash | Football | Sport

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Arsenal will resume their Champions League campaign away to FC Porto this evening in the first leg of their last-16 tie. It’s the first time since 2017 the Gunners’ have made it to the knockout rounds of the Champions League, with Mikel Arteta’s side eyeing up a deep run in the competition.

The last time Arsenal progressed beyond the last-16 stage in the Champions League came via a two-legged victory over Porto back in 2010. It did require a second-leg turnaround for the north Londoners though, with Arsenal having lost 2-1 in the first leg away in Porto.

Arteta and Co. will be hoping to avoid a similar situation playing out at the Estadio do Dragao tonight, as they look to keep hopes of a maiden European Cup triumph alive. With Arsenal still firmly in the Premier League title race as well, managing workloads and fitness levels will be imperative to the Gunners boss.

The Spanish coach named an unchanged side from the team that beat West Ham United for Arsenal’s 5-0 demolition of Burnley over the weekend. Bukayo Saka netted twice for the Premier League title hopefuls, as they stretched their winning streak to an impressive five matches.

But part of the reasoning behind sticking with the same side was the number of injuries within the Arsenal rank. Jurrien Timber and Thomas Partey were among the absentees on Saturday, with the duo also missing for tonight’s Porto match.

There is some positive news on the injury front for Arsenal, with Gabriel Jesus expected to return to the squad for their trip to Portugal. Jesus is yet to feature for the capital club this month, having spent the previous three fixtures in the treatment room nursing a knee problem.

It will provide a selection headache for Arteta, as he’ll want to reintegrate Jesus back into his team ahead of what looks like a potentially season-defining March. The return of the £45 million man will also allow Arteta to rotate his forward line, with Saka and Gabriel Martinelli having started all three fixtures in his absence.

Elsewhere, there could be minutes off the bench for Oleksandr Zinchenko, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Fabio Vieira, with the trio also tipped to be back from their respective injury problems. All in all, it’s left Arteta with a decision to make ahead of naming tonight’s starting XI, as the 41-year-old edges closer to having a fully fit squad.

However, while failing to beat Porto won’t be detrimental to Arsenal’s Champions League campaign, Arteta is still likely to go strong with his team selection, to avoid any unwanted slip-ups ahead of the second leg. Expect to see all the usual suspects on the pitch against Porto, with any changes being minimal.

Arteta might look to bring Jorginho into the starting XI for this fixture, with the Italian one of just two former Champions League winners in the side. It could even be in place of former Chelsea teammate Kai Havertz, who Jorginho won the competition with three years ago. That would at least provide some fresh legs into a midfield that has played quite a bit of football – albeit to great effect – in the last couple of weeks.

Arsenal’s predicted starting XI: Raya; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior; Rice, Jorginho, Odegaard; Trossard, Jesus, Saka


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