Morning all.

Before the day, Mikel Arteta had asked the fans travelling to The Emirates for last night’s huge match against Porto, to bring their voices with them. They did, they were brilliant.

Arsenal’s staring eleven was the same as the one which defeated Brentford at the weekend, barring David Raya who returned in place of Aaron Ramsdale.

The game had everything. Crunching tackles, fouls, shirt pulling, time wasting, you name it and much of it went unpunished as the referee clearly intended to let the game flow.

In Portugal, Mikel Arteta’s men didn’t appear ready for the dark arts of Porto’s football, last night though, they were.

Arsenal needed a goal just to ensure their Champions League journey wasn’t necessarily going to end last night and eventually it came. A perfectly executed pass from Martin Odegaard split the Porto defence and played in Leandro Trossard. No messing about as he looked up, saw his chance and took it. A lovely move, a fine finish.

The tie was level on aggregate, all we needed another to go through to the quarterfinals and Arsenal thought they’d had it when Martin Odegaard fired home a loose ball after Kai Havertz, Pepe and Costa got in a pickle in the box. The referee was quick to award Porto a free kick as Havertz was adjudged to have tugged Pepe’s shirt. He did, but the way the game was being officiated, the decision seemed harsh to me. However, had Porto scored in such a way, I’m pretty sure we’d have all berated the officials had they ignored the shirt pull.

Both sides had opportunities to win the tie, Raya made a good save for Arsenal while up the other end Costa prevented substitute Gabriel Jesus from scoring with his first touch of the ball. With the score at a stalemate, the game went into extra time which turned out to be 30 minutes of few chances to avoid the inevitable. Penalties. And so they came. Which team would hold their nerve, which keeper would be the hero. Would there even be a hero or just a villain for the newspapers to focus on? As it turned out, the British football journalists would have to wait another day before writing what I suspect were the thoughts in their head.

Captain Martin Odegaard took and scored Arsenal’s first, Pepe scored his penalty too. Kai Havertz made it 2-1 but then it was advantage Arsenal David Raya pushed Wendell’s spot kick onto the post. Bukayo Saka maintained Arsenal’s advantage by tucking home his penalty home to make it 3-1 before Grujic made it 3-2. Declan Rice scored his penalty to give us a 4-2 lead which meant Porto’s next had to go in if they were to have a chance of winning the tie. Galena took it but David Raya was too good and saved it…

Facts and stats from

  • We have progressed to the quarter-final of the Champions League for the first time since 2009/10, ending a run of seven consecutive last-16 eliminations in the competition.
  • This was the first  Champions League knockout match to go to a penalty shootout since the 2016 final between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.
  • Porto have been eliminated from each of their last eight major European knockout ties against English opposition since knocking Manchester United out of the 2003/04 Champions League last 16.
  • This was only the second time we were taken to extra-time in a  Champions League match, and first since the 2008/09 last 16 against Roma, which they also progressed from after a penalty shootout.
  • Leandro Trossard became only the third player to score in each of his first three  Champions League home games for us, after Alexis Sanchez and Bukayo Saka.
  • Martin Odegaard has seven assists this season in all competitions – this is as many as he provided in the whole of last season for the Gunners.
  • There were 74 fouls over the two legs of this last 16 tie – the most in a knockout tie between two sides in the  Champions League since the 2015/16 last 16 tie between Bayern Munich and Juventus (76).

The game itself was great, especially for the neutral. I think it was Ally McCoist who said it was an old school battle in a modern world and I think he was right. It had everything, right through to the penalties. There was even handbags between opposing managers and players too but that’s probably because it meant so much to both clubs. For Arsenal, it was huge and togetherness, passion and determination got them through what was an intense and tricky tie. The first player to hug David Raya after his penalty save secure the win was Aaron Ramsdale. What followed was hugs, celebration and just pure joy. Possibly relief too.

The competition gets much tougher now as the so called big teams are left. Who we face is yet to be decided but what this Arsenal have, what Mikel Arteta and his staff and brought to the club is the determination to achieve anything. There’s a good chance we might not reach the semifinal or the final but if we don’t, it won’t be for the lack of trying.

Have a great day guys and if you see a Porto fan, tell them, cheats seldom prosper…

Catch up in the comments.