You either win or you learn. Mikel Arteta will bet on that.
The instant pain of lost time due to injury can be difficult to overcome. Arsenal don’t have that luxury, of course: they host Newcastle at the Emirates on Saturday.
But when the dust settles from their last-gasp defeat here in Portugal on Wednesday, Arsenal’s players will head into the second leg against Porto confident that they have more than enough in their arsenal to win by at least two clear goals.
In fact, there are lessons to be learned from their defeat at the Estadio do Dragao to make that task easier.
To be successful in Europe you have to suffer nights like this.
Nights where the inferior opposition uses every trick possible to somehow gain the advantage.
Arsenal suffered a 1-0 defeat to Porto in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
Mikel Arteta’s young team now have everything to do when they host the Portuguese team at the Emirates on March 12.
Galeno hit a stunning long-range shot into the back of the net in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
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Porto knew they couldn’t fight fire with fire against Arsenal. Arteta’s side would have left them speechless.
So they were annoying, they committed fouls and they were disruptive. And they won.
“That’s the context of the match,” Arteta explained when asked about Porto’s persistent fouls.
‘It’s something we knew and for which we have to prepare. It is something that the referee has to manage.
“We can’t do anything about it and we’ll just have to handle it and play our game.”
So heading into the second leg, Arsenal can count on another night of dirty tricks.
If they can keep their heads, they will have the quality to dispatch Porto in front of a home crowd that will be baying for blood.
That kind of European ability is something Arsenal’s young players are not used to.
They surpassed the group stage with 16 goals, double that of PSV, who finished second.
But the knockout stages are a completely different game. Arsenal tried that medicine last night for the first time in seven years.
An intensive course to win at all costs. And if Arsenal want to be successful in Europe for a longer period, they will have to get used to it.
Arsenal struggled to create opportunities throughout the match and failed to register a shot on goal.
The Gunners appeared to struggle against the experience of Porto, as the home team kicked, bothered and disrupted the visitors to secure the victory.
Last night, for a few moments, it seemed like they were getting it; Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard conceded strategic free kicks to prevent Porto from counterattacking in the second half.
When the two sides meet in London, the Gunners will have to be patient. The crowd will demand a quick start, but if progress does not come immediately, Arsenal will have to bide their time.
That’s what experienced European activists do. Chasing the game could mean danger.
It’s a balancing act that the Champions League’s most successful teams have perfected.
If Arsenal are to delve deeper into this year’s competition, they will need to learn the dark arts of European knockout football. And learn fast.