FC Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira says keeping a clean sheet in the opening leg of their first knockout round tie against Arsenal FC will have a big bearing on whether his team progress.
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While admitting encounters with Arsenal FC are "always open", Jesualdo Ferreira has pinpointed shutting out "one of the best teams in the competition" as key if his FC Porto side are to have a chance of winning their UEFA Champions League first knockout round tie. Opposite number Arsène Wenger was equally forthcoming with praise, saying Porto have "no weaknesses".
Jesualdo Ferreira, Porto coach
We usually study how a team plays, but we know Arsenal will maintain their style. They didn't start the Premier League well but are now recovering, just like us after we lost Lisandro and Lucho at the end of last season. A match between Arsenal and Porto is always open and I'm sure it will be very attractive to watch. Raul Meireles and Hulk will be available – they both bring experience and add quality to the team. Hulk is in good shape after training well, and although he lacks match fitness, he is still keen to play. Raul has international experience and I hope he plays to the best of his ability.
Raul and Rúben Micael must stick to the game plan – that's all they have to do. We are playing well and Arsenal bring the ideal opponent to display our true quality against. We really want to progress but we know Arsenal are one of the best teams in the competition. Not conceding at home is crucial, but a win would bring us great confidence. It's not easy to manage a team that has two games a week, especially with the injuries and suspensions we've had, but we have to think game by game.
Arsène Wenger, Arsenal manager
Our main concern is to play the best we can. Sol Campbell is important because of his experience but I still don't know if he is going to play. We have a policy and if we believe in a young player, like [Nicklas] Bendtner, we stick with him until the end. Bendtner has a lot of potential, he has a lot to give. Porto are a very good team and have a good group of technical players.
I would compare Porto to ourselves; they have a good scouting team and make the right transfer decisions. The most important thing for us is to play our best and we expect Porto to have no weaknesses. We know about Hulk; he's a very good player but he is not the only good one Porto have. [Łukasz] Fabiański will play, I believe in him. He is at the top level and has a lot potential. The result is not easy to predict – you have to be on top for 180 minutes.
Out: Ernesto Farías (knee), Cristián Rodríguez (thigh)
Misses next match if booked: none
• Rúben Micael hurt his shoulder in the weekend draw at Leixões SC but Porto are hopeful he will be fit.
Out: Andrei Arshavin (hamstring), Kieran Gibbs (broken foot), Johan Djourou (knee), Robin van Persie (ankle), Eduardo (hamstring), Alex Song (knee), William Gallas (back), Manuel Almunia (finger)
Misses next match if booked: Gaël Clichy, Cesc Fàbregas, Robin van Persie
• Carlos Vela has travelled after overcoming a knee injury.
• Campbell is back in the Arsenal squad after signing in January and could take Gallas's place. His last UEFA Champions League appearance for the Gunners was in the 2006 final, when he opened the scoring in the 2-1 loss to FC Barcelona in Paris.
13/02/10 Leixões SC 0-0 Porto
• Third-placed Porto are now nine points adrift of Liga leaders SL Benfica after being held by the club second from bottom.
• The draw meant that Porto remain unbeaten in 12 matches since the start of the year, having lost their final game of 2009 at Benfica.
Arsenal did not play
• Arsenal were not in action at the weekend having been eliminated from the FA Cup in the fourth round by Stoke City FC.
• Last Wednesday they beat Liverpool FC 1-0 with an Abou Diaby goal to consolidate third place in the Premier League put the memory of consecutive defeats by Manchester United FC and Chelsea FC behind them.
• In last season's group stage Porto beat Arsenal 2-0 at home with Bruno Alves and Lisandro on the scoresheet. It meant Porto finished top of Group G with Arsenal a point behind in second place.
• A much more experienced Arsenal outfit had lined up in the first game between the sides which ended in a 4-0 victory for the English team, Porto's joint heaviest away defeat in the competition.
• Arsenal's only previous visit to Porto came in 2006/07, also on Matchday 6, when a goalless draw was enough to take the Gunners through as group winners after the teams finished on eleven points. The game at the Arsenal Stadium had ended 2-0 to the hosts.
• This is the tenth successive campaign in which Arsenal have advanced from the initial group stage. This is the sixth time in seven consecutive campaigns that Porto have reached the knockout rounds.
Did you know?
• Porto have lost their last two home games against English opposition. Last season they went out to Manchester United FC in the quarter-finals after a 1-0 second-leg defeat at home and were beaten by Chelsea FC in the group stage this term. Prior to that they were unbeaten against English visitors, eleven contests yielding five wins and six draws.