Round of 16, second leg – Kick-off: 20-45 (CET)
First leg: Bayern Munich 2-1 Fiorentina
Arsene Wenger is confident Arsenal can “make history” and overturn a 2-1 deficit against an Porto side with a fine record of defending first-leg leads, despite the absence of talismanic captain Cesc Fabregas.
The Gunners have not overturned a first-leg deficit in European competition since their UEFA Cup tie against Hajduk Split in 1978, but Wenger believes his players can end that sorry sequence tonight.
“There’s always something new in our game so we can innovate and change history,” he said. “The team has a good chance to make history. We are very young and in a strong position and, of course, we want to win. Scoring away from home is still a massive advantage under UEFA rules and that’s why we are confident we can do it.
“In the first game, Porto defended well. I don’t think they will be ultra-defensive. We conceded unusual goals in the first game so we want a better defensive performance and we want to score goals.
“We know it’s a tricky game, as it always is in the Champions League against an opponent of Porto’s quality, but we believe we can do it. We are confident and are in a good position, so let’s go for it.
As well as Fabregas, Wenger will also be without long-term absentees Kieran Gibbs, Robin van Persie, William Gallas and Aaron Ramsey.
Meanwhile, Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira says that his side will not come to the Emirates merely to defend their one-goal lead.
“We need to have confidence in what we do as the game will probably be decided by small details,” he said. “The balance of the game and how the result pans out will be decisive so we don’t need to talk about different scenarios which might happen. At Porto we know what our qualities are and we are confident. We know it will be a difficult match but we have the weapons to make it difficult for Arsenal.”
“We know the [first-leg] goal they scored puts them in a very good position. For that reason we need to fight, be positive, get a good result and qualify.
“Last year we reached the quarter-finals and our objective is to do that again. I want to put right the fact that Porto have not won in England before – there’s always a first time for everything.”