HAVING BEEN knocked out of the Europa League by a late Olympiakos goal in extra time after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang appeared to have secured his team’s progress to the last 16 with an excellent overhead kick, Arsenal take on Portsmouth tonight in the FA Cup.
Despite playing away from home the odds are stacked in the north London sides favour as Portsmouth have not beaten Arsenal in any competition since winning a league match 5-4 in March 1958.
Still smarting from their loss at the hands of the Greek side Mikel Arteta said it was up to him to get the team going again.
“It hurts. Big time.” said Mikel Arteta after the Olympiakos game.
“We had a lot of hope in this competition and it was a great way for us to be able to go to Europe [next season].”
“I think we did a lot of positive things in the game, I think we created enough chances to win but if you concede two set pieces in a tie like this you put yourself in big trouble.”
After scoring the only goal in the away fixture, Arsenal toiled against an Olympiakos side unbeaten in the Greek Super League this season.
Despite Arteta fielding arguably his best team, with Aubameyang, Alexander Lacazette, Mesut Özil and Nicolas Pepe all starting, the Gunners struggled for rhythm during a first half in which they failed to register a shot on target.
“I know how much they wanted this competition,” said Arteta, “I’ve seen today the way they fight, the way we try to play and it’s a difficult one to digest, as a team and as a club, but this is football and sometimes it’s very cruel. Now it’s up to us and up to me to lift this place and move forward.”
Arsenal have progressed from all three of their previous FA Cup ties against Portsmouth, the most recent being the quarter-final in 2003-04 (5-1 at Fratton Park). A win tonight would get the team back on the right track.