Porto vs. Arsenal at Estadio do Dragao, Porto Portugal 2.:45 PM EST Wednesday February 17, 2010
by Jason Green at Predictem.com
Match Odds: Arsenal 2.70 / Porto 2.60 / Draw 3.15
Over/Under: 2.5 goals
Moneyline: Arsenal +180 / Porto +155 / Draw +220
On Wednesday night in the first leg of the Champions League tie for both teams Porto hosts Arsenal. Porto are, once again, back in the knockout phase and they are one of the toughest opponents to beat at home. They currently are in 3rd place in their domestic league, but they surprisingly had no problems getting out of the Champions League group stage.
Porto has been playing well as of late, as since the New Year they have 3 wins and 1 draw. They have been solid on both sides of the pitch, as in their last 2 domestic league matches they have scored 7 goals and given up zero. Nobody gave Porto much of a chance in this season’s Champions League since they sold Lisandro Lopez, Lucho Gonzalez, and Aly Cisskho, but they have exceeded expectations and look to knock off the Gunners in the 1st leg of this tie.
Arsenal looks to get back some success after they have been eliminated from both the England League Cup and the FA Cup competitions. Arsenal did beat Liverpool last Wednesday, but they have lost their last 2 matches against main Premier League rivals Chelsea and Manchester United. Arsenal trails Chelsea by 6 points in the Premier League.
Arsenal had a tougher time advancing to the knockout phase, as they needed a playoff win over Celtic. They did not look great in the group phase only scoring 3 goals in their last 3 matches.
This season in their domestic leagues Porto has scored 38 goals and given up 14 goals and Arsenal has scored 61 goals and given up 30.
Porto Recent Form:
2/7/2010 Porto 3 Naval 0 (Liga Sagres)
2/2/2010 Porto 5 Sporting CP 2 (Taca da Portugal)
1/31/2010 National 0 Porto 4 (Liga Sagres)
1/20/2010 Belenenses 2 Porto 2 (Taca da Portugal)
1/16/2010 Porto 1 Pacos Ferreira (Liga Sagres)
Arsenal Recent Form:
2/10/2010 Arsenal 1 Liverpool 0 (Premier League)
2/6/2010 Chelsea 2 Arsenal 0 (Premier League)
1/31/2010 Arsenal 1 Manchester United 3 (Premier League)
1/27/2010 Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 0 (Premier League)
1/24/2010 Stoke City 3 Arsenal 1 (FA Cup)
Porto will get Hulk back for this match after he has been injured for a few weeks. Raul Meireles is also match fit and will be ready for this match. Diego Valeri, Ernesto Farias, Orlando Sa, and Cristian Rodriguez are all out for this match due to injuries.
Arsenal has a number of injury concerns, especially Robin van Persie, who will probably out for this match. Other players for the Gunners that are out of this match are Johan Djourou, Kieran Gibbs, Carlos Vela, and Andrey Arshavin are all out due to various injuries. Eduardo and Alex Song are not very match fit, but each will make the trip to Portugal.
Porto’s Radamel Falcao leads the team with 20 goals this season in all their competitions. He will not be keyed on as much in this game since Hulk is back in action. Look for Falcao to cause problems against a struggling Arsenal defense.
Porto will look for a counter attack in this match, as Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger likes to open up the field with flowing style, which will leave their defense exposed.
Hulk will likely start in this match, but his fitness is in question.
With all of their injuries this season Arsenal would be in real trouble if it were not for the stellar play of Cesc Fabregas. He may not score in this match, but he may have an assist or two and he will wreak havoc in the Porto backfield.
Jason’s Pick: Estadio do Dragao is a very tough venue for visitors to come away with a win. That will be no different in this match, but I think Arsenal will play well. I look for a low scoring game and a draw is the likely outcome with a final score of 0-0 or 1-0.