Arsenal hosts FC Porto in a crucial game at the Emirates on Tuesday. It's a must win game but very few would be happy with the news that Cesc Fabregas is set to miss this game. I can see the celebrations at the Porto camp.
It was speculated that Arsene Wenger may risk Fabregas just like the way he did against Aston Villa. However, Wenger has confirmed that Fabregas will be sidelined, and it's a big blow even before the kick-off.
The Gunners are expected to overturn a 2-1 deficit they suffered earlier in the first leg at Porto. Some poor goalkeeping coupled with bad refereeing pushed Arsenal onto the backfoot, but Sol Campbell scored the all important away goal which may prove decisive at the end.
On the injury front, Arsenal will be heavily boosted by the return of Andrei Arshavin, Abou Diaby, and Sol Campbell—all of them are expected to start.
Alex Song's two game ban is only applicable in the domestic competition, so that's another good news for all the Arsenal supporters.
Samir Nasri, after a match winning performance against Burnley, is set to feature alongside Diaby and Song in the midfield. It's a tough task to replace Fabregas, but Nasri looks in good form, and he's capable of terrorising defenses with his trickeries and creativity. Hopefully, he can do that against Porto.
Theo Walcott showed glimpses of his abilities against a poor Burnley side, but it's too early to judge him. He must show consistency and should follow the good work with an even better performance against a dangerous Porto side.
On the other hand, Nicklas Bendtner is the weak link. His below-par performance against Burnley was unacceptable. He must improve his finishing, if not Arsenal will be the sufferers.
One can't expect to create 20, 30, or 40 chances against a good Porto side, so it's important to finish off whatever little chances comes the Arsenal's way. He missed half a dozen gilt-edged chances against Burnley on Saturday, and if he repeats that "feat" against Porto then surely Wenger and Co. would bid goodbye to the Champions League.
Meanwhile, Arshavin will be raring to go and show his master class in Europe's elite competition. Interestingly, this is Arshavin's first high profile Champions League tie in his short Arsenal career.
At the back, William Gallas is set to miss this game, but Campbell's return will ease the pressure on the backline. Bacary Sagna will be fresh after sitting out against Burnley. Gael Clichy looked rusty in the first leg, since then he's improved so a much better display is expected from him.
Prediction Time :
The Gunners will attack from the onset as they're the ones trailing. However, Porto won't sit back and defend. Expect a fierce attacking game with a number of goal-scoring opportunities.
Porto's current form is not so bright, hence Arsenal are clear favorites to win this game and seal a place in the quarterfinals. Porto striker Radamel Falcao is the danger man alongside Hulk.
Porto's record in the English soil is absolutely poor. I am expecting one-way traffic and a comfortable 2-0 win to Arsenal.