Wednesday, April 24News That Matters

Rio Ferdinand names two teams Arsenal will fear in the Champions League

According to Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand, Arsenal should have little to worry about in the Champions League this season except for Manchester City and Real Madrid.

After a seven-year absence, Arsenal made a return to Europe’s top competition by finishing second in the Premier League behind Pep Guardiola’s dominant City side last season.

The Gunners kicked off their campaign impressively, netting four goals against PSV Eindhoven at a lively Emirates Stadium, but faced a setback against Lens in Ligue 1.

However, they rallied in their last four matches, winning three and drawing one to secure passage to the knockout phase as winners of Group B. Tonight, Mikel Arteta’s side faces Porto in the first leg of what promises to be an intriguing last-16 clash at the Estadio do Dragao.

This encounter comes at an opportune moment for Arsenal, with the team hitting top form after a challenging winter period. They head into the match on the back of five consecutive league victories.

‘I think they can go a long way in this tournament,’ Ferdinand – who received some stick from Arsenal fans en route to Portugal – told TNT Sports on the eve of the encounter.

‘As long as they stay away from Man City and Real Madrid until maybe the semis or finals, I think they can get that far.

‘They’ve got nothing to fear outside those two.’

Ferdinand is of the opinion that Arsenal become a formidable force when players like Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, and Gabriel Martinelli are fit and performing at their best.

‘Odegaard scoring the other day, a couple of goals. Saka scoring again. Those two creative players can define a match,’ the ex-United and England defender added.

‘When they’re in form, add Martinelli to that, they’re a threat for anyone.’

On Tuesday, both Thomas Partey and Fabio Vieira were captured participating in first-team training after their recovery from injury. Whether the midfield pair will join the trip to Portugal remains uncertain.

Notably absent from the session at London Colney were the injured trio of Gabriel Jesus (knee), Takehiro Tomiyasu (niggle), and Oleksandr Zinchenko (calf).

With the Gunners currently in fine form, they aim to secure an advantage at the Estadio do Dragao, which they can carry into the second leg of the round of 16 tie scheduled for March 12.

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