LONDON, March 8 – Sol Campbell expects Arsenal to use the painful memories of their farcical Champions League first round defeat in Porto to kill off the Portuguese champions in the decisive second leg on Tuesday.Arsene Wenger’s side must overcome a 2-1 deficit at the Emirates Stadium following a self-inflicted first leg loss that featured two bizarre mistakes by goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
The Pole spilled a Silvestre Varela cross into his own net early on at the Dragao Stadium. Campbell headed Arsenal’s equaliser, but Fabianksi showed a shocking lack of awareness in the second half when he picked up a back-pass from Campbell and then compounded his mistake by throwing the ball straight to Falcao, who gratefully shot into the empty net.
It was a comical way to lose such an important match, but Campbell’s away goal could prove priceless as the Gunners need only a 1-0 win in north London to advance to the quarter-finals.
"The game is only halfway done, and that should stand us in good stead for the second leg," Campbell said.
"Scoring away from home was important. Had we lost 1-0, it would have been harder. That one away goal could make a massive difference.
"It gives us a bit of an advantage to build on for the second leg. But, we are not happy because we lost the game.
"What we have to do now is take the positives from the game and go again as a team.
"There is still a big job to be done, don’t get me wrong, but it would be much harder without that goal."
Reaching the last eight should be more than enough incentive for Arsenal but former England defender Campbell, 35, believes the manner of the first leg defeat could provide an important additional motivation.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger was less than impressed by the way Swedish official Martin Hansson allowed the free-kick to be taken so quickly and Campbell agrees that Arsenal were hard done by.
"You can go on about it, and yes it was quick thinking from the Portuguese, but the ref has never given me a chance to get in front of the ball – basically he gave it to them and let them play," Campbell said.
"There was no whistle and I do not think he even had his arm up when the kick was taken."
Arsenal can draw on recent history for proof that they have nothing to fear from Porto. A 4-0 victory over Jesualdo Ferreria’s team at the start of last season followed a 2-0 win over Porto at Emirates Stadium in September 2006.
But the Gunners could be without captain Cesc Fabregas after the Spain midfielder limped off in the first half of his side’s 3-1 win over Burnley on Saturday.
Fabregas had just scored Arsenal’s first goal moments earlier when he suffered the hamstring injury and Wenger will give him until the last minute to prove his fitness.
While Porto’s European progress would be guaranteed with a draw, midfielder Raul Meireles insists there is no chance of the visitors playing cautiously at the Emirates.
Porto, who drew 2-2 with Olhanense on Saturday, need success in the Champions League to keep their season alive as they sit eight points behind Portuguese leaders Braga.
We will not be ultra-defensive in London. That’s not our style and to try to play that way would be a disaster for us," Meireles said.
"Arsenal are a dangerous team in attack and to give them the ball would cause chaos for us.
"I’m optimistic and our squad have the confidence and belief that we will reach the last eight."