Arsenal have three undroppables for Porto as Mikel Arteta has enormous Kai Havertz dilemma

Arsenal news as the Gunners prepare for return of European football and Mikel Arteta balances workload

Kai Havertz and Leandro Trossard at Arsenal's training ground

Arsenal are back amongst Europe’s elite and their stance as being in the top four favourites to lift the Champions League this season is a credit to everything that Mikel Arteta and Co have created. That they are in a stronger position than Barcelona and Bayern Munich, who have had more success in the competition than Arsenal have in their history, since the Gunners last reached the quarter-finals, is evidence of this.

But Arsenal’s place in the next round is far from assured. Porto are regulars at this point and have reached the final eight three times since the Gunners were last there in 2010. In nearly 20 years they have only failed to get past the group stage five times, though not once have they passed the quarter-finals in that time.

It is now Arsenal’s task to become the sixth English side to knock them out of the tournament since 2007. Arteta’s men could hardly be stronger favourites.

However, this is new territory for many of the Arsenal players. Most of them are playing their first season in the competition and every step in front is into the totally unknown. For the majority of the squad, there are no winners’ medals to fall back on as proof of just how good they are.

Arsenal’s league form is remarkable and over the past 18 months only Manchester City can compare from England, but as Pep Guardiola found out between 2016 and last year, getting over the line in Europe is a different question entirely. Here, looks at just how Arsenal might tackle the new situation ahead of them.

Experience is key

It can be largely overstated or understated just how important experience is, but for a young side going to a hostile atmosphere in Portugal, using those who have been there and done it will be vital. Arsenal’s team is made up of first-timers for this stage and the fact that Thomas Partey is unlikely to be fit enough to start – if able to play at all – leaves Arteta with one less body with Champions League previous to rely on.

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