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Rice & Trossard Key: 4-3-3 Arsenal Predicted XI vs FC Porto| UCL

Ending their seven-year absence from the Champions League knockout stages, Arsenal travel to Portugal for the first leg of their last-16 contest with FC Porto on Wednesday evening.

The Gunners topped Group B ahead of Sevilla, RC Lens and PSV Eindhoven with a game to spare, returning to the Champions League with a bang. They lost once in the group stages while conceding a mere four goals across six games.

One week on from destroying West Ham United 6-0 away, Mikel Arteta’s boys prepared well for the European fixture with a 5-0 smashing of Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday afternoon in the Premier League. The north London side will be heavy favourites on paper against FC Porto, who are seven points off leaders Benfica in Liga NOS.

Arsenal Team News

Emile Smith Rowe recovered from an ankle problem in time to make the bench against Burnley, but none of Gabriel Jesus (knee), Oleksandr Zinchenko (calf) or Takehiro Tomiyasu (knock) were given the green light to return and remain doubtful.

Arsenal will definitely travel to Portugal without ACL victim Jurrien Timber, although the Dutch defender has been named in the squad for the knockout stages. Thomas Partey (thigh) and Fabio Vieira (groin) are in the final stages of their recovery, with the latter in with a chance of featuring against his former employers.

Predicted Arsenal lineup vs FC Porto (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper

David Raya’s confidence should be high heading into this European fixture, having kept back-to-back clean sheets against West Ham and Burnley respectively. The Spaniard will be hoping to shut up shop as quickly as possible against Porto in Portugal.

Defence

In front of Raya, Jakub Kiwior, Gabriel Magalhaes, William Saliba and Ben White should form the defensive unit of the Arsenal lineup.

Kiwior and White should be the full-backs and will look to support the centre-back pairing of Saliba and Gabriel. The defensive quartet must stay compact and resolute against the home side, especially when dealing with their quick transitions.

Midfield

Declan Rice is an automatic pick as he makes Arsenal tick with his passing, tackling and reading of the game. He will act as a shield for the back four, with Martin Odegaard and Kai Havertz joining the England international in the engine room in the Arsenal lineup.

Odegaard and Havertz will take charge of controlling the flow of the game, getting into pockets of spaces behind the Porto midfield and creating opportunities for the forwards.

Fabio Vieira, if deemed fully fit, could make an appearance off the bench against his former club.

Attack

Leandro Trossard has made himself undroppable after scoring in all of the last three games for the Gunners. Even when Gabriel Jesus returns from injury, Trossard—right now—deserves to continue in the false 9 role in the Arsenal lineup.

Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli have been in red-hot form of late and should start on the right and left flank, respectively. Other options should Arteta want to freshen up include Jorginho, Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith Rowe.

Rohan Sengupta

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