Portsmouth host Arsenal at Fratton Park with the intentions of progressing to the quarterfinals of the FA Cup. Arsenal’s last outing against Olympiakos in the Europa League was a bitter pill to swallow with head coach, Mikel Arteta, admitting that lack of Champions League football will be damaging for the club this summer,
“I think the damage caused by the club not being in the Champions League for the third season is really big.
“Every player in the world wants to play Champions League and, if you talk about having this option on the table, players are in a much more open way to join this club or to renew their contract or to convince anybody because we want to be in that competition. Financially the impact is enormous because the structure of this club is built to be in the Champions League and you can sustain that for one year or two, but then after you have to start making decisions.”
Those decisions will entail selling valuable assets to fund a rebuild, and with Aubameyang highly sought after – with Barcelona in particular keen to bring him to the Camp Nou this summer – there may be some pain in order to put things back together.
“We don’t have margin for error with those decisions, so they have to be very thorough and clear processes of where we have to improve and how we are going to do that, and then go forward with no excuses.”
There’s no time to cry over spilled milk, as there’s the FA Cup tonight, which offers the Gunners a shot of silverware under the new boss, as well as the prospect of yet another Europa League season as the winner of the competition gets an automatic slot in the second tier European tournament.
The last time both sides met in December 2009, Portsmouth was still in the Premier League but things went downhill for the club, as they suffered relegated to League One and almost got into administration twice. Portsmouth has not beaten Arsenal in any competition since winning a league match 5-4 in March 1958, drawing eight and losing 13 since then.
Arsenal Team News
I would expect Mikel Arteta to make some wholesale changes to the squad with half an eye on the West Ham game this coming weekend. Emiliano Martinez is odds on to continue in goal as the club’s cup keeper, while there should be a debut performance for new signing, Pablo Mari, that featured for the Under-23s alongside Rob Holding that is in dire need of games following his return from an ACL injury. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is another player that has found games hard to come by and with Bukayo Saka’s increased importance in the first team, he might get a runout at the back line.
Further up the pitch, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson , Matteo Guendouzi and Gabriel Martinelli will be expected to feature in tonight’s game in their bid to gain match fitness.
Arsenal Predicted Lineup
Portsmouth Team News
Portsmouth are in good form coming into the game, with four wins from the last five. The outfit are currently third in the SkyBet League One table and are odds to make a return to the Championship at the end of the season. Top striker, Ronan Curtis, is instrumental in that resurgence, scoring 11 goals in the league for Portsmouth with two more goals in other competitions. He currently has a knock and the club is sweating to get him fit for this all-important contest against Arsenal.
Portsmouth Predicted Lineup
Arsenal: Kieran Tierney (shoulder), Calum Chambers (knee), Sead Kolasinac (shoulder), Cedric Soares (knee). More updates on Arsenal.com
Portsmouth: Tom Naylor (knock), Ronan Curtis (knock)
Team Form Guide
- Last Five Games: D W W W L
- Last Result: Arsenal 1-2 Olympiakos
- Leading Goalscorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (20)
- Last Five Games: W W L W W
- Last Result: Portsmouth 3-0 Rochdale
- Leading Goalscorer: Ronan Curtis (13)
Gooner Daily predicts a 4 – 0 Arsenal win.
Kick Off – 8.45pm (GMT +1) at Fratton Park.
Follow Gooner Daily on Twitter @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back
Visit Gooner Daily’s Facebook page.
Click on the “Follow button” to join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List