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Arsenal vs. FC Porto

Emirates Stadium

30/9/08

19:45

Arsenal v. Porto

FC Porto travel to the Emirates today to take on a stunned Arsenal in the group stages of the Champions League. This will be a statement game for the Gunners in more ways than one, as they not only need to bounce back from the shocking result to Hull City on Saturday but Arsenal cannot afford to fall anymore off the pace in Group G. If Arsenal fails to win today then it will be a crippling result in their quest for Champions League knockout round qualification.

Much has been made of Arsenals result over the weekend and rightly so. During several moments during the game, I could have sworn that I was experiencing dj vu of the Fulham game from earlier in the year. Without taking anything away from Hull, who played brilliantly, Arsenal was abysmal. Apart from Almunia, I do not think one player can honestly say he produced a decent performance. If Arsenal can`t show anymore hunger then I saw on Saturday, I`m afraid that Porto will pull a Hull on us.

Vital Quotes:

Arsene made it clear after the weekends match that we would see changes to the team for Wednesday. 'There were enough ingredients to make me physically sick,' he is quoted in The Sun.

'What we delivered was not good enough and we all know that. There will certainly be changes for Tuesday.

Shortly after that Wenger went into mini-damage control. 'Sometimes you make changes because you consider your team and the balance in the other team,' Wenger told Sky Sports News on Monday.

'If a player does not play tomorrow it does not mean they are punished. It is rotation. Players cannot play every single game.

'We are obviously really disappointed with our result against Hull. But I have sat on the bench long enough to know that if you play this game 100 times you would lose one time.'

FC Porto coach, Jesualdo Ferreira, does not care too much about Arsenal`s result against Hull. 'I don't believe the Hull game will be of influence. These are two completely separate matches,' said Ferreira. 'In the Champions League teams always play differently. Arsenal use different tactics to the ones they use in the Premier League.

'Arsenal losing at the weekend will not have an effect on Tuesday night.If Arsenal conceded a goal from the set-piece against Hull it doesn't mean anything, it doesn't suddenly become something we look at.'

Though he is worried about how his squad has changed since these two teams met two years ago. 'There have been many changes since then. Arsenal have big players still but only Thierry Henry is missing who was there,' he continued.

'Most of their players are bigger, older, better and more experienced. Porto weren't able to keep up with Arsenal in that game but we were able to qualify from the group.

'Now we have different players, some left and some have come. At the moment the only thing we can say is that Arsenal have more experience and that could affect the outcome.'

Arsenal Team News:

I'm really not sure what team to expect for this game. My gut tells me that Arsene will bench a few players for their performance over the weekend but I'm not sure which ones will be punished. My best guess is that it will be a mixture of starters and experienced reserves.

Good news for Arsenal is that summer signing Samir Nasri is back in contention for a starting place. He will either replace Eboue or Theo if he is indeed fit to start. I'm afraid the young Englishman will probably be the one to see the axe. Nasri will be looking to grab his third goal in this short campaign for the Gunners. Alex Song is the only one who was available for the Hull game that will not be ready for this game. Diaby, Rosicky, Eduardo, and Bischoff are all still out.

Possible Starting XI: Almunia, Sagna, Djourou, Toure, Clichy, Eboue, Denilson, Cesc, Nasri, Adebayor, Bendtner

Player to watch: Cesc Fabregas

Cesc really needs to step up his game. The lack of a preseason for Arsenal is all too evident in the young Spaniard's play. This team needs Cesc to be firing on all cylinders to have any chance of winning this competition. Fabregas' uncharacteristically poor play affects everyone around him, especially Adebayor who must have Cesc's defense splitting through balls to survive.

FC Porto Team News:

FC Porto is lucky to even be involved in this year`s Champions League, as they were heavily involved in Portugal's mini Calciopoli over the summer. Even though they were found guilty, the club was only deducted 6 points so they comfortably retained their Portuguese Liga crown.

Back to this game, Porto`s main playmaker Lucho Gonzalez is back in the squad after missing Porto`s 2-0 win over Pacos Ferreira on Friday.

Possible starting XI: Helton, Sapunaru, Bruno Alves, Rolando, Fucile, Toms Costa, Raul Meireles, Lucho, Tarik, Lisandro, Rodriguez

Player to watch: Lucho Gonzalez

This twenty seven year old Argentine has taken the reigns of creative play maker for Porto after Ricardo Quaresma`s departure to Mourinho`s Inter Milan. He has been with the club since `05 and has scored 24 goals 88 league appearances for the Portuguese side. If Geovanni and his fellow Hull city compatriots caused the Arsenal defense to be 'scared' then Kolo and the rest of the defense better be ready for this step up in quality.

Match Facts & Stats

Porto has never won on English soil

Ref Watch:

Herbert Fandel (GER) will be the official for this match. He was the head official for the 2007 Champions League final where AC Milan beat Liverpool 2-1. He was also the official that was attacked by a Danish supporter during a Denmark versus Sweden Euro 2008 qualifying match. In my opinion he was 100% right to walk off the field after that incident.

Match Prediction:

Please don't call me Simmo, but I'm afraid I have to predict a 2-1 loss or a 1-1 draw at best. Please Arsenal prove me wrong.

Next Fixtures:

4/10-- Sunderland(A)-- Premier League

18/10-- Everton(H)-- Premier League

21/10-- Fenerbache(A)-- Champions League




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The Journalist

Writer: Brice Coffer Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday September 30 2008

Time: 1:41AM

Your Comments

I would gladly be proven wrong tomorrow but all I can see is a negative result for Arsenal, sorry. My first negative prediction of the year depresses me.
gunnerkid107
Match Facts & Stats Porto has never won on English soil I always get a bad feeling when I see stats like this. Against Hull it was we had not given up a goal at the Emirates this year :(
YankeeDeuce
frankly i cant help but agree with you.wenger seems a bit soft with his squad so i imagine d untouchables may still start for us.
gunnerchi
I have been like most fans spent the last few days crying in my beer. Now time to take stock, we have a great team and hopefully that brief episode is over. I do think one person may have stumbled on a point that ran through my head why did Eboue start on the left side with Theo on the right. Could it have been the hype that has surrounded Theo over the past few weeks? All in all the last game note the last game was punishment enough for us and we will have to live with it. Seem to remember we have managed to do play like this before when we got too big for our boots,(how could the thirties team lose to Northampton). I prefer to be positive GK107 and think the tide has turned,(everything crossed). Go you gunners.
alwaysgunner
alwaysgunner, I'm usually always positive, almost blindly, but I'm just not feeling it today.
gunnerkid107
GK107 you should have seen me on Sunday; I thought the world had ended. I've been to this place many times over the past 60 years and they always come through, and they will again.
alwaysgunner
"Brazilian midfielder Denilson looks set to make way for Arsenal's clash with Porto. The 20-year-old is set to be replaced in the centre of midfield by Emmanuel Eboue. Robin Van Persie will play on the left of midfield and Nicklas Bendtner will come into attack, according to The Sun." Why the ***** would van Persie play on the *****ing left?! Ohh, I would go mental!
Tom14
Look we have lost 2 games Yes, but we are only 2pts behind the leaders, we should be thankfull that we are not 4 or even 6pts behind. So let's stop feeling sorry for ourselves!
hackneyval
2-0 to the Arse me thinks! No hangover from the lads, just a nice solid display to put the record straight.
flv
on AFC.com wenger quoted saying changes are rotation and not punishment. yeah pull the other one Arsene, he is deffo putting certain players on the bench after that shameful display against hull !
PUREGOLD
Well, aslong as Wenger fawns over his players and doesn't drop them as punishment only to allow them a breather then we will get a crap result like Fulham or Hull every 6 games as the players will settle, become complacent and off we go again, I can see it happen all season if the start has been anything to go by. He needs to drop RVP, hes been bloody awful this season and few moments of talent don;t disguise a poor work ethic and a negative impact on team play, Gallas has been responsible for 3 goals already, CLichy is strolling through games like he's a big time charlie, Denilson and Cesc just cannot cope in the face of a hard working opposition midfield, they both dont have the legs of physical strength and as good as he's been, WTF is Eboue doing anywhere near our first team when Vela, Walcott, Nasri et al are available? There is definatly something rotten going on at Arsenal at the minute, can anyone else say the are happy with the squad, manager, tactics and general atmousphere around the club! Im a positive fan 99/100 times, but there is definatly something not quite right.......
LondonGooner
We have lost 2 games out of 6 in the league already this season, against Hull & Fulham for ****s sake. Doesn't that worry anyone else? What would Ballack, Lampard, Essien and Mikel (pick your combination) do against Cesc & Denilson in the middle if Hull & Fulham can run rings round us? It just doesn't bear thinking about!
LondonGooner
I think the simple issue is that no one has started playing yet this season. Robin, Cesc, Ade... Those three are (arguably) our most imfluential players when they play well, and they haven't clicked yet! It's been left to Theo and Nasri (when fit) to give us that spark. I have faith they'll come good eventually... hopefully sooner rather than later! Arsenal 1 -0 tonight. Keep the faith!
navydave
My last couple of visits to the Grove this season have bee fruitful so lets hope it continues. There just isn't one area of the team, defence, midfield or attack that any of us are totally happy with!
LondonGooner
easy londm gooner! atm playin chelski, pool, manure, villa n city sounds like a nightmare. they'd maul us. we just havent got enuf steel in d middle
gunnerchi
I never usually panic and I'm not now, but we would get anihalated playing anyone with a proper midfield! Thats why Wenger needs to do something, what that is I have no idea! But we can't keep the ball in our posession for 90 minutes every game and when the other team gets the ball our midfield cannot cope and then if they get a corner, we may aswell give them a penalty for obvious chances it offers our opponents!
LondonGooner
but we all know wenger is afraid to wield the big axe. why cant he ROTATE gallas, cant he take major decisions, i hope djourou doesnt get impatient
gunnerchi
Maybe it will take Dourou to get impatient before Wenger does anything. I don;t think the lad would of signed a new contract last week if he wasn't given assurances about his first team playing chances. Fact is Gallas has been averga eoverall for us since he has signed, under rated captain in my eyes, not great, but not as bad as being made out to be. But this season he has been poor and needs dropping. Kolo hasn't exactly covered himself in glory either!
LondonGooner
I seem to remember only 6 six days ago, after wins by the 1st XI away against Blackburn and Bolton, and the kids dicking Sheff Unt, everything was rosey. One poor defeat and it's panic stations again. Over-reaction on both counts I feel. I agree that long term Djorou would make a fine replacement for Gallas, but Gallas doesn't turn into a poor Defender overnight. He like many others is struggling for form. Unfortunately, with defenders, dropping them is not always the answer as they need an elelement of consistency!
navydave
i havent been on the site that much in the past few days. but where the hell is Simmo?
luckys_10
Navydave, it's not a case of panic mate, rather trying to identify a deep rooted problem that has reared its head twice in 6 games and that as it seems to me will continue to happen.........
LondonGooner
i think we will win tonite. we lost vs Hull when we all expected us to win. we won both away games (vs Bolton and Blackburn) when we thought we would have tough games. everyone seems doubtful today. maybe it is a good thing.
fcdematthew
It seems like the flu even the youngsters caught it last night losing 4-1. I feel we will turn it around tonight here's hoping. as someone said only last Wednesday we were top of the world, but that's football. Go you gunners
alwaysgunner
The lads looked like they believed a bit too much of their own press last night. Villa have always had a decent youth set up, and a couple of early goals put us on the back foot straight away. They needed a kick up the bum, cos Wigan will be much tougher opposition than Sheff United!
navydave
I think AW will go with a 4-5-1 again : Theo and Nasri on the wings, Ramsey, Cesc, Eboue in the middle and the same back for with the possible inclusion of Silvestre for Clichy and/or Djourou for Gallas or Toure. A scrappy 1-0 win will do nicely.
G4L
*four
G4L
Come on guys, this is Arsenal, have you learned nothing in all your years? Just when you think we're crap, we turn on the style and kick some arse ..... then, after a few quality games, you think we're back on track, we ***** it all up again! Lol .... we'll be ok tonight!!
Rocky7
i dont think we wil keep a cleansheet g4l. porto look so organised and if we dont start at a high tempo and try to unsettle them then i fear the worst
gunnerchi
wish i could share your optimism rocky. but i am stil distraught over our loss to hull
gunnerchi
Have to agree totally with London. I fully expect the team to bounce back for 3, 4 or 5 games and then a repeat of Hull/Fulham. Make no mistake, it will happen again.
jaelle
If you watch Portugese football on a regular basis then forgive me, but all we know is that they beat Fenebache comfortably (late goal if I remember rightly, so not that comfortable). Obviously they're no mugs, but they aren't world beaters, and (if this weather keeps up) it'll definately be awkward conditions for them. I'm talking myself into a decent win here!;-)
navydave
wats d weather like navydave?
gunnerchi
I also want to know where the hell these players get off getting so complacent and arrogant? What the hell have they achieved to earn a mentality like that? BTW, you'll enjoy this latest BBC interview with Arsene, he touches on his personal feelings about the club and England: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/teams/a/arsenal/7642008.stm
jaelle
Blowing a hooly, with sporadic rain showers!
navydave
Could we be seeing Silvestre in the London red tonight? That's sure to be a very strange sight! Complacency against a very technical side like Porto could leave you wanting.
ForeverUnited
It was interesting on Saturday before the game, when Silvestre's name was called on the bench, there were a couple of boo's. I was very surprised! Should be a good technical game all round tonight. I would have thought the first 20 minutes will be slow!
navydave
well said funited. they wil be lookin to punish our mistakes
gunnerchi
I've got access to tickets to this game but I choose not to go cos last time I went we lost (just a friendly against Juve, but still). I also think we'll bounce back, maybe 2-1 to us.
GoonerLou
I see in the "possible XI" that Gallas has been left out. I think tis would be a good thing. I would love to see Djourou step up and take care of Business. Who do you think gets the nod for skipper with Willie left out?
brewtowngunner
Brewtowngunner, I agree that it would be a good idea to have Gallas on the bench too. But my possible XI has no inside source, its just my feeling of who I think will and should start.
gunnerkid107
Lou! You turned down tickets to an Arsenal Champions League game?!?! Disappointed in you lol ;)
gunnerkid107
Imagine my struggle though! I can't bear if I go the second time and we lose again you understand?! Seriously though, got a friend in town and I've persuaded him to stay indoors (also a bit rainy outside in the afternoon) and I'm cooking the dinner to go with the football now!
GoonerLou
******** disgraceful team selection! Almunia Sagna Toure Gallas Clichy Walcott Denilson Fabregas Nasri van Persie Adebayor
Tom14
I mean he's no footy fan, not interested in going to the stadium or a pub. So I've forced him to be here to try my home-made paella. :)
GoonerLou
Not surprising Tomf, that's what I thought (not what I hope) would happen.
GoonerLou
I think we'll win 3-0 tonight, maybe more. Wenger is bound to have given them a severe rollocking, the players should be all fired up. AW and the players will prove all these fickle fans wrong, just hope the fans make some positive noise and don't turn on the team if things don't go well.
jubair
hey lou, u r xtremely lucky to be able to turn down tickets to such a game. its 45 mins to go and d tension is building up
gunnerchi
good luck tonight lads, show them English clubs still rule the roost in Europe!
merlin
I think the team selection sounds good, you can't drop players after one bad game, especially if there isn't someone as experienced as them in the same position.
jubair
Porto are not as good as this year but having said that nor are we. http://arsenalcolumn.wordpress.com/2008/09/30/mach-preview-arsenal-v-fc-porto/
arsenal column
gee, what a surprise, Arsene changes nothing except for Eboue. Absolutely ludicrous. These players can pretty much do anything they want, they won't be dropped. I'm totally disgusted with that team selection.
jaelle
jubair, a win tonight won't suddenly change the minds of fans who correctly see the team's weaknesses. As LD and others have said here (me included), the team will bounce back with a few games until another Hull/Fulham happens all over again.
jaelle
I just feel that with such a young team we need to be patient. There are going to be mistakes and bad results, but long as our team learns from them it's not that bad. I think this can be a really great team given a bit of time. I can understand the fan's frustrations after such a long time without a trophy. What the fan's should remember is that AW has an extremely difficult task competing with MU and Chelsea given their spending power. Let's judge the team a bit futher into the season. So far things haven't been as disastrous as some people make out.
jubair
bbc says eboue is dropped for nasri
gunnerchi
Porto's keeper looks like a feckin dog.
k_chelski
Cesc's passing is back.
GoonerLou
I'm obviously in bed dreaming -- I just heard from the Arsenal online audio feed that Ade scored from a CORNER. Silly me, we don't score from corners!
jaelle
About ******** time lads! Nobody ever questioned van Persie's ability but his desire and willingness to pass rather than shoot or do a trick has been a lot better today.
Tom14
The only thing I can say about Porto is their defense is worse than ours.
themadafrican
You are right K C, their keeper looks like he has eaten all the pies and is half a sleep, which suits us
themadafrican
Oh, you're screwed now. The Hulk is coming.Even Marvel characters play in the champions league.Shame on tottenham.
k_chelski
LOL.:)
themadafrican
Adebaywhore is kissing the badge now. Vela looks on touch
themadafrican
"Oh, you're screwed now. The Hulk is coming.Even Marvel characters play in the champions league" -- LOL, kevin, liked that! Someone please tell Ade his new dance is even worse than his old one, which I never thought was possible. Porto's defense IS worse than ours. kevin, as a fellow Brazilian, aren't you continually amazed at our ability to invent crazy nicknames? "Hulk" ffs!
jaelle
They're too old for me but I am seriously in love with Vela and Nasri. Loved seeing Arsene laughing!
jaelle
woops, I meant to say "they're too YOUNG for me!" Sheesh! wishful thinking on my part!! LOL!!
jaelle
yes, Mineiro for a gaucho, Feijao, Paraiba, lol. When I heard the name Hulk, I thought to myself " either russian or brazilian".
k_chelski
kevin, one of my favorites is Pretinha on the women's team -- Americans/Europeans/other westerners would freak out about such a nickname!
jaelle
My only complaint?? No injury time ... wtf? 5 subs means at least 2 and a half minutes injury time .... we could have scored a couple more there!! Great result ..... very pleasing, Walcott was IMMENSE!!
Rocky7
Agreed, Blackie or Little Black aren't really traditional names.
k_chelski
Rocky, yeah, the ref seemed to just want to get the hell out of there. Maybe he figured Arsenal had missed so many sitters that he knew we wouldn't score no matter how much injury time he gave. Unbelievable amount of missed sitters!
jaelle
Still rubbing my eyes, scratching my head!
GoonerLou
Walcott the WINGER was brilliant.
Tom14
our offense against hull was an aberration, scoring will rarely be a problem for us
TPowell
its the other side of our game that worries me
TPowell
I did say 3-0, maybe more so I was close. The performance wasn't that great, Porto played very poorly, but given the cirumstances I'm pretty happy with how it went today. I think the team will improve and play much better than this. Some of us need to stop overreacting to every result. RVP played pretty well today, but I've been happy with his overall performance so far this season. It will take a while for the new look midfield and strikers to gel together so lets be a bit more patient.
jubair
i guess i let pessimism get the better of me
gunnerchi
gunnerchi, I know I'll ***** everyone off but my pessimism remains. We can kill poor teams like Porto with lousy defenses. Hull and Fulham put up much tougher fights and we couldn't beat them.
jaelle
jaelle i stil aint happy wit our defence. esp at corners
gunnerchi
Good performance, although Porto went missing in the 2nd half. Impressed by Theo, RvP and Ade tonight. Now, for a good run of 4-5 games, until......
prits
lol. i feel u prits
gunnerchi
world class performance, what happen to the injury time??? if we play like this week in week out in every competition our opponent will always be second best....WengerStyles (total football)
fellow
I'm sure its all looking better now on the Arsenal front
ForeverUnited
Too be honest, all this talk of backlash and making amends is a load of bol**cks. Porto were awful in the 2nd half. I would expect no less. The problem is that we threw 3 points away last Saturday and i can tell you, Chelsea, Man U and Pool will no do that. I am still pis**d off at Saturdays effort and to be honest, it will take a lot more than 2 RVP goals and 2 Ade goals against a defense worse than ours.
themadafrican
you all disgust me.
gooner_till_i_die
I certainly felt better leaving the stadium last night than I did Saturday evening. The lads played well, they look more of a unit last night. A pity that RvP was off the pitch by the time the penalty was given as it would have been good for him to get a hat-trick.
hackneyval
A much better performance tonight, particularly from those who have been woefully underperforming. Gallas looked much more concentrated and van Persie was a much more industrious figure. In both of his goals he demonstrated desire to get the ball, I can only infer but I imagine the Boss had a chat with him because he was also very willing to join up the play in midfield and then get forward and help Ade. Neither of which he had done since the Blackburn game. However, had Porto scored one of those early chances it would have been a very different game and I still harbour concerns about the lack of protection for the back four from midfield. My only other gripe is why the hell don't we take Cesc off for half an hour in games like this? He could barely walk in the last twenty minutes. We have to make sure this isn't a temporary recovery again, this has to be permananent.
Little Dutch
Maybe the two defeats, one home and one away, will teach the side what level they need to be at every game from now on. We may not win anything but as long as we can look back at the season and think it wasn't because of complacency or arrogance then at least you can be satisfied that you've given your all. I thought Bendtner looks really good at the moment and should be given a chance. Centre mid of Cesc and Denilson won't work over the course of the season IMO.
Gooner_Vin
Exactly the point i always make on nights like this! Why not rest Cesc??? We could've taken him off at half time, if not 10mins into the 2nd half, haven't seen a team give up as much as Porto in a long while, nor with such a dodgy keeper, but honestly, why not rest Cesc? And also, we know what Eboue can do (still manage to look like a tit with only 15min on the pitch) can't we give Ramsey another look.....?
shewore
Put the Welsh Bulldog on!
Tom14
 

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