It’s Champions League match day and it’s an away day in Porto for the travelling Gooners who will be soaking up some sun and some nice Douro reds in Portugal’s second city, I’m sure. I’m off to Porto in the summer and I have to say I have a lot of jealousy right now that I couldn’t make it work with my own work, holiday time, etc. It’s sure to be a great trip.

Arteta and his players arrived yesterday in Porto and he faced the media last night, talking up Portuguese football as a fan of it, as well as our opponents and how we haven’t been to play Porto in this competition for over a decade. He and his players will be well aware of the threat that Porto face tonight and so he wasn’t giving away any kind of soundbites that can be stuck up on the proverbial Porto dressing room wall. He did admit to have spoken to Fabio Vieira and also admitted that he’ll be in the squad for tonight’s game, which will be lovely for him I’m sure. Of course when it all kicks off he’ll want to get on the pitch and do damage to his former employers, but I’ll bet when he arrives it’ll be all smiles and hugs.

I wonder what Fabio has told Arteta are the watch outs in the Porto team? The analysts at Arsenal will have done plenty of scouting, but we all know how much emphasis Arteta plays on also knowing the characters of his own players and when he signs them this is often some he watches for, so I wonder if he’s asked about those softer factors on players from Fabio. We all know the names that might hurt us in terms of their ability, but what is a weakness of the likes of Diogo Costa, who he was asked about yesterday which I thought was weird. I can only imagine the goalkeeper has been under the kosh at times this season and perhaps there are question marks over him at 34 years of age, but Arteta was never going to allow a soundbite to come out and such was the case in last night’s presser.

Their big threat this season has come from Evanilson, who has 19 goals in all competitions and four in five as Porto’s main man centre forward, then Galeno on eight and Conceicao on five, so you get the feeling that all Portuguese eyes will be on their main man to cause our centre halves problems this evening.

From a tactical point of view I don’t really know a lot about Porto’s playing style and in any event it’s difficult to paint a full picture because the way they play in the Portuguese league will inevitably change compared to the Champions League. They will know that they won’t be able to dominate possession for the whole game, but they will also be fairly confident that they can create chances; in six matches in the Champions League this season this Porto side has scored 15 goals; they’re no mugs and are averaging just under three per game.

So you have to look at our defence and hope we can maintain what has been an immense solidity so far this season. We have been able to pick up plenty of clean sheets and one of those tonight could be huge for our Champions League campaign. That’s why I think Arteta might keep his system of four centre halves this evening. I also think that Tomiyasu and Zinchenko aren’t going to make it as they weren’t pictured in any of the training pics yesterday, so he might not have a choice, but I think the last two-and-a-half matches has shown that Kiwior is more than capable of holding talented players at bay. He played the whole second half against Liverpool and looked good. He played the whole 90 against West Ham and looked good when West Ham were putting Kudus up against him. Burnley offered little but he still performed well, so my hope is that if he’s the one on the team sheet for tonight, we get a good continuation of his form.

I think the rest of the back line will be the same and then of course in front of them you’d expect Declan Rice to anchor the midfield. But could this be a game for Jorginho? He didn’t get many minutes at the weekend and so I could definitely see that being a possibility, but I just have a feeling that he might start against Newcastle at the weekend and that Arteta will opt for Rice, Odegaard and Havertz as the midfield trio tonight. Then up top I think he’ll go with the same three as the weekend in Martinelli, Trossard and Saka, with the hope that they can continue the good form from the last few weeks.

That team will be high on confidence so you’d fancy that they will be moving the ball quicker, rotating positions and hopefully showing Porto what a force we are this season, but away days in the Champions League are super hard, especially when you get to the knockouts. There are no teams that get this far because they haven’t delivered in this competition so I’m not expecting the same kind of procession we’ve had in the league for the last fortnight. But I am hoping that we can create chances and get goals.

Arteta also has to be mindful of the big game at home to Newcastle on the weekend and I think if he keeps the side practically the same at the weekend, we will dip in to our subs bench and also maybe rotate players at the weekend. That’s why I mentioned Jorginho above, but maybe also we’ll get to see the likes of Vieira and Partey get a few minutes towards the end to build them up for the coming games. It feels like a possibility. I also have a hope that Gabriel Jesus and Zinchenko are fit at the weekend but weirdly in the pre match press conference transcript I didn’t see anything about those players’ availability. I hope this isn’t a worry that is extending in to the long term, because we need those guys.

And we need some kind of result tonight to take back to the Emirates. We’re on a good run now and we need to maintain that and we don’t want defeat to stutter this team and their current form.

Back tomorrow with a review of the game.