Morning all.

As we all know, if one looks hard enough, answers to most questions can be found on the internet so I went searching in attempt to find out what Porto FC are all about. After being bamboozled by tactical jargon, the gist is, they’re going to be difficult to beat. 

Their manager is Sergio Conceicao who is renowned for his dynamic and attacking style of play. His favoured formation is the good old fashioned 4-4-2. Out of possession, his players are hardworking and won’t hesitate to get stuck in. They press high and hard through their front two with their midfield players not far behind.

Defensively, they play a high line and the back four play as one unit when defending but when in attack, their fullbacks are their danger men. They attack down the flanks with their wingers moving inside to create a defensive more problems. They’re quick too, especially in transition with short and swift passing.

There you go, clear as mud.

Portuguese teams are often hard to beat, Portuguese coaches are hard to beat. That’s not to say they’re unbeatable though. Two legged European ties and Arsenal haven’t often made good bed fellows though.

In Primeira Liga, they sit 3rd on the table, 7 points behind current leaders Benfica. To be honest, I only recognise three clubs in Portugal’s top league with Sporting Lisbon being the other and they currently sit in 2nd place.

February has been a great month so far for Mikel Arteta and his players, 2024 has as we’re yet to drop a domestic point and have conceded just one goal. Porto however have dropped points against Rio Ave and Arouca – two clubs I’ve never heard of. Their last domestic fixture ended with a 2-0 victory against Estrela da Amadora. Nope, never heard of them either. Benfica await them after tonight, a game they must win really if they’re to have any hope of finishing in the automatic qualification for Champions League football next season.

Porto came through their group as runners up to Barcelona, the only one of the three clubs they didn’t beat. Shakhtar Donetsk and Royal Antwerp were the other two clubs in the group. Here’s a glimpse of them in action during their 5-3 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk which secured their place in the knockout stages.

This is the fourth time we have drawn against Porto in European competition, all of which have been in the Champions League. We have won all three home ties but are yet to beat them on their own turf – The Estadio do Dragao.

Remember the night we played them at Highbury? It was at the same stage of the competition and we were trailing 2-1 going into the second leg.

Yep, Nicklas Bendtner scored a hat-trick as Arsene Wenger’s team thrashed Porto 5-0 in March 2010. Much has changed since that day though for both clubs. By the way, did you see that Mika Biereth scored on his European debut for SK Sturm Graz last week? He scored again at the weekend too. Just saying….

Team news for Arsenal. Both Fabio Vieira and Thomas Partey are back in training. I’m not getting ahead of myself again with Partey as last time he was seen, he broke down again but fingers crossed this time his return is for real.

Despite being back in training, Thomas Partey has not travelled to Portugal. Oleksandr Zinchenko, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Jurrien Timber remain out of contention too. Three younger players travelled with the senior squad – 17 year old defender Ayden Heaven, 20-year-old right-back James Sweet and Ethan Nwaneri.

I’ve no idea who will be in Mikel Arteta’s starting eleven although I’m quietly confident the back five will be the same as the Burnley game with Declan Rice and Bukayo Saka included but after that, I’m not sure. I’m sure it’s tempting to start with the same eleven as the weekend, after all, if it’s not broken why try and fix it however, tonight is just the first half of a two legged tie. Tonight is about coming away with a result which we can better at home and making sure we give ourselves a really good chance of getting through to the next round and that might mean Mikel Arteta has to or needs to, tweak his starting eleven.

Catch up in the comments.