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Arsenal v. Portsmouth match thread: staying alive for silverware

Going out of the Europa League and the FA Cup in the space of a few days wouldn’t be great.

Arsenal Training Session Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Hey look! There’s an Arsenal match today. With the Gunners bombing out of the Europa League on Thursday and the release of grim financials on Friday, much of Gooners’ attention has been understandably directed elsewhere. But Arsenal travel south to Portsmouth to face the League One side in the FA Cup 5th Round. The cup represents the Gunners’ last chance at silverware this season, so hopefully Mikel Arteta has the lads refocused and ready to go.

I’m expecting a good deal of squad rotation from the manager. Arsenal looked tired against Olympiacos, which went to extra time, and today’s FA Cup tilt is the club’s fifth match in 15 days. I’d bet Pablo Mari makes his debut and that Rob Holding, Reiss Nelson, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all return to the lineup. Gabriel Martinelli probably gets a start too. The Gunners will be without Sead Kolasinac, who is out until at least the end of March with a shoulder injury. Fortunately, Shkodran Mustafi is not on the injury report after leaving the Olympiacos match early, but I think the centerback will be rested today. Kieran Tierney is aiming to return to full training this week. Cedric Soares is hoping to be back in full training next week.

Ed. Note: I was wrong about Holding and Maitland-Niles, but Mikel has heavily rotated the side. See the lineup below.

Squad mental state, team rotation, tough to play at Fratton Park, what have you — Arsenal should beat League One side Portsmouth. Crashing out of the Europa League was bad, a loss today would arguably be worse. Fortunately, I have faith that the Gunners will get it together and take care of business.

Arsenal - Martinez, Sokratis, David Luiz, Pablo Mari, Saka, Guendouzi, Torreira, Nelson, Willock, Martinelli, Nketiah

Portsmouth - Bass, Mccrorie, Bolton, Burgess, Seddon, Close, McGeehan, Williams, Evans, Harness, Harrison

WHAT: Arsenal at Portsmouth, FA Cup 5th Round
WHERE: Fratton Park, Portsmouth
WHEN: Monday, March 2nd 11:45 AM PT | 2:45 PM ET | 7:45 PM BT
US TV: Not broadcast, streaming on ESPN+ ($$$).

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