Porto 1-0 Arsenal: Mikel Arteta insists Arsenal will learn from defeat


Arsenal fans look deflated as they applaud the travelling fans
Arsenal last reached the quarter-final stage in the 2009-10 campaign

The stats may make nervy reading after defeat at Porto in the Champions League last 16, but Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta insists his side will “learn” before the second leg in north London.

The Gunners lost in stoppage time thanks to Galeno’s superb strike but Arteta remains confident Arsenal will prevail in the tie.

Arsenal have not reached the quarter-final stage since 2009-10 and have won the first leg in just one of their last 12 two-legged knockout ties in the competition (drawing two and losing nine).

They are also competing in the Champions League for the first time since 2017 and looked far short of their free-flowing best at the Estadio do Dragao.

“We will learn from it. Now it is clear, it is half-time,” said Arteta.

“If you want to be in the quarter-finals you have to beat your opponent and that will be the purpose and the plan.”

Arsenal’s record signing Declan Rice is confident fans will see a different team next month at Emirates Stadium.

“I think it’s about keeping our heads. It’s hard to concede that leg,” he said.

“Knowing how we play at home, with our fans and energy, I think you’ll see a team on the front foot from the start and we’ll be looking to do that.

“It’s a real kick in the teeth because we’ve conceded late but we know what to do.”

Arsenal lacking a goalscorer?

Kai Havertz deflated after Porto's winning goal
Kai Havertz headed wide from a corner as Arsenal failed to find the target against Porto

Former forward Theo Walcott, who scored 108 goals in a 13-year spell at Arsenal, was on BBC Radio 5 Live for the game and spoke about the need for a “prolific goalscorer”.

“We were speaking about the squad depth that Arsenal have before the game,” he said. “But now looking back, does Mikel Arteta trust the players outside of that starting XI? He only made one substitution tonight.”

The Gunners boss named an unchanged side for three successive games and after free-scoring league wins at West Ham and Burnley, this seemed like a game too far for the same set of players.

It was a rare off night for Arsenal’s attack as they failed to register a shot on target in a Champions League match for only the second time on record (since 2003-04), previously doing so away to Barcelona in the last 16 in March 2011.

“I’ve said this numerous times recently, I think the argument about Arsenal’s lack of prolific goalscorer will rear its ugly head again,” Walcott continued.

“I am a big fan of a certain Brentford forward that I won’t name, but it is one of those. Arsenal are a really big team, but with all the set-pieces, if you’ve got someone like that in your team you are an even bigger threat.”

Arsenal have been linked to Brentford forward Ivan Toney, who is out of contract at the end of next season.

‘Playing with the handbrake on’

Martin Odegaard holds his head after the decisive goal
After 21 goals in five successive league games, Arsenal failed to find the net against Porto

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown described the defeat as a “sucker punch” for Arsenal on TNT Sports.

“Maybe it comes down to experience, I hope it doesn’t come back to haunt them,” he said.

“It was a harsh lesson for Arteta and his team tonight. The handbrake was on a little too much – was that inexperience?

“They need to hold that hurt now. Porto contained Arsenal.”

‘That is Champions League football’

Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon was on BBC Radio 5 Live for the game and thinks Arsenal still have a good chance of going through to the quarter-final stage.

“I don’t think Arsenal did a lot wrong and I don’t think 1-0 will be enough for Porto going to the Emirates,” he said.

“At 0-0 there is always that potential for a deflection or a wonder goal like we’ve seen tonight. It was a wonder strike from Galeno.

“The ultimate smash and grab, but Porto won’t care. That is Champions League football.”

Walcott also remained positive about Arsenal’s ability to advance: “These ties aren’t won over one leg.

“I am confident that given Arsenal’s overall form at the moment and the atmosphere in the Emirates, they will still be able to go through quite comfortably.”

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