Arsenal will be looking to put the disappointment of the Europa League exit behind them as they now turn attention to the FA Cup, playing Portsmouth at Fratton Park in a last-16 encounter.
The Gunners have done well since Mikel Arteta’s arrival, recently turning promising performances that previously got us draws into decent results. So the task now is to move on from the Olympiakos setback and continue that progression on the domestic front.
Arsenal, of course, the most successful club in FA Cup history, are favourites to beat the League One side but with the added importance of this now our only shot at silverware, Arteta will certainly try to go all the way. First, we need to get pass Pompey and history suggest we should do just that as they haven’t beaten the Gunners in any competition since March 1958.
However, Portsmouth will be up for this game and their captain Tom Naylor has also warned that the Fratton Park faithful brings a certain atmosphere we might not be used to.
Well, while that remain matter of opinion a quick glance at their wiki page tells that they are on a decent run on their own patch; a 19-match unbeaten streak all season, including 10 wins from their 10 games (all competitions). That certainly gives their fans something to crow about.
They come into this match on the back of a 3-0 win to move within three off the top-two on the League One table, with a match in hand over second-placed Rotherham United. In five home games last month they scored 14 goals with only three in reply. So if anything, we do have to keep our wits about us.
Arteta may have initially been tempted to make wholesale changes, but the Europa result means that he is more likely to name a stronger side.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who instead of given the night off, could play some part, with Eddie Nkeitah still favoured to lead the attack with Gabriel Martinelli up top with him.
Granit Xhaka played each minute of each game since the turn of the year and do need a breather, with Lucas Torreira given a start.
Shkodran Mustafi is an injury doubt, so this is a good opportunity to hand Pablo Mari, who have build up his fitness with the u23’s, his debut.
Portsmouth are on an incredible run, especially in home comforts, and will certainly fancy themselves. So this will be no easy game for Arsenal following the trauma from Thursday night.
However, Arteta has since done a great job putting his arm around the shoulders of our players, to lift their spirits. So now it is for them to reciprocate that faith he got in them.
With this a potential banana skin we could be in for an entertaining night, with the Gunners doing just enough to hand Pompey their first home defeat of the season. COYG!