Morning all.

Porto are in town and I suspect we’re all waiting to see what depths of dark arts football they will stoop to. Arsenal’s Adrian Clarke, writing in the official matchday programme:

Conceicao inspired a defensive tactical masterclass at the Estadio Dragao by sacrificing a high-intensity pressing game for a well-organised, pragmatic approach. His 4-2-3-1 became a 4-5-1 out of possession, with their nominal No.10 Pepe dropping back into the right of midfield to pack central areas. Wide men Galeno and Francisco Conceicao were also extremely diligent in the way they retreated behind the ball.

In that game they enjoyed just a 35 per cent share of the ball, so we can expect them to sit back in their shape once again, attempting to frustrate us. From that solid five-man midfield base, they will try to force turnovers that catch us cold.

It was clear that the Portuguese side will also look to slow down the pace of the game and make it a fragmented affair that is bitty in style, rather than free-flowing, and they will likely repeat this ploy, adopting a mid-block designed to crowd space and disrupt our passing rhythm. Rarely making a mistake, they were supremely disciplined in carrying out the manager’s instructions. Conceding just 17 goals in 24 domestic league matches they are a very smart defensive outfit.

Most of their most dangerous attacking forays come from the flanks, but they do lack a touch of creativity inside the final third. In the Primera Liga they have a combined xG of 28.01 in open play, which is way below the likes of Sporting (36.8), Braga (39.24) and Benfica (45.8). All those outfits have scored more open-play goals than Porto, as have minnows Estoril and Arouca.

I looked back on how Porto played their Champions League game against Barcelona in the Camp Nou. They committed 21 fouls compared to Barcelona’s 11 and that’s just the ones the referee did spot. Barcelona outdid them as far as possession goes, 54.5% – 45.5% but as far as the shots on target goes, the stats were pretty even. I use Barcelona as an example because they’re probably the best European side Porto have played away in this competition so far. For the first 20 odd minutes, Porto sat back, defended and then upped their attacking side of the game. They started to press Barca higher up the pitch and but for an offside flag, would have gone ahead before they did. It was a counter-attack which gave them a 1-0 lead on the half hour mark. Barcelona equalised just 90 seconds later. Barcelona very nearly went ahead right after the break but the woodwork got in the way and as the home team pushed for the winner, Porto dropped further and further back. Their right hand side of the defence was the target for Barca and eventually they scored what turned out to be the winning goal and yes, it came from Porto’s right, Barca’s left.

In the first fixture of this two legged tie, Arsenal, by their own standards, weren’t at their best.

Mikel Arteta on what we have to do differently against Porto tonight compared to the first leg:

We’re certainly going to have to tweak a few things to generate much more than what we did against them. It’s the level of the Champions League; you’re facing top teams, the fact that there are two games as well plays on your mind and we’re going to have to be better tomorrow.

On the part the crowd will play:

I think the impact they can make tomorrow is incredible. I don’t think that they really realise so we need that noise and we need them playing every single ball with us. We need that emotion controlled as well to understand that the game can go through certain phases and we have to be really intelligent to push in the right moments to get what we want. It is a beautiful opportunity to live these nights – it’s been 14 years so everything that we put in is going to be worth it.

At The Emirates tonight, I think Mikel Arteta’s team will play a much better game. A different game too. I think we’ll be more aggressive, more proactive and more attacking. I think we’ll see Jorginho and Declan Rice together in midfield again but if not Jorginho, Thomas Partey.

We need two goals to go through as well as a clean sheet. Sounds a simple task but it won’t be I’m sure because Porto aren’t going to turn up and let us play our game. They’ll use every trick in the book to stop us from playing which is absolutely fine, as long as the officials punish the bits which cross the football rules line. Fairness and consistency, nothing more and nothing less.