As the second set of UEFA Champions League knockout stages beckon closer, Arsenal will travel over 800 miles to Portugal's second-largest city, Porto. The Estádio do Dragão, home to the Dragões, will play host to the first of two legs in an enticing affair between two exciting, attacking sides on Wednesday night. 

The return leg at the Emirates Stadium will act as a 'potential decider', dependent on the outcome in Portugal. 

Porto sit in 3rd in Liga Portugal, seven points behind league leaders Benfica. After two surprising results in the league allowed them to fall behind in the title race, they returned to winning ways on the weekend against Estrela Amadora

The Gunners are undoubtedly in a better run of form, having won all of their Premier League games in 2024 and closing the distance to the top by only two points. 

Their recent fixtures have also seen them be fearless in front of goal, scoring 21 goals and conceding just two in their last five games. 

The Estádio do Dragão is also a familiar place for two of Arsenal's midfielders, for very different reasons. 

A return for an academy starlet

Attacking midfielder Fábio Vieira left Porto for North London, after the clubs reached an agreement for approximately £30 million in June 2022. 

The 23-year-old spent 11 years in the Porto academy setup, before quickly graduating through the ranks with Porto B and eased into the first team from 2020. 

Vieira impressed many within the Porto setup after a spectacular display at the UEFA U21 European Championships and was handed an extended run in the squad. In that time, he pitched in with six goals, alongside 14 assists to help Porto secure a domestic double in a memorable season. 

However, the Gunners were alerted to his potential shortly after, and he made the move to Mikel Arteta's side shortly after. 

The Portugal U21 international initially struggled to hit the ground running. However, having started to impress the Arsenal contingent at the start of the season, he has been out of action since his rash sending-off against Burnley in November after sustaining a groin injury that required surgery. 

Having recovered well, it is expected that Vieira could make a potential return for Wednesday night. When asked about it before Arsenal's fixture against Burnley, Arteta responded, "He is very close. He’s been training already for a few days with the team so I think he’s very close. He’s evolved probably faster than we expected and he’s in a good place.”

If everything goes according to plan, Wednesday night could be the first time that the 23-year-old returns to his old fortress. He would welcome an excellent reception from the home support, due to his significant impact in their double-winning season. 

A memorable moment for a reborn prospect

For Kai Havertz, a return to the Estádio do Dragão will bring back significant memories. 

The 24-year-old had become Chelsea's second-most expensive transfer, having joined from Bayer Leverkusen for a reported £62 million. After an incredibly tough season adapting to Premier League football, he created a memory of a lifetime for Chelsea fans at the Estádio do Dragão. 

With 42 minutes on the clock in the UEFA Champions League final, Mason Mount fed through Havertz one-on-one with Ederson. The German international remained calm and dribbled past the Manchester City goalkeeper, before rolling the ball into the back of an empty net. 

It was Havertz's first-ever Champions League goal, and the deciding one to win Chelsea their second Champions League title in the club's history. 

People expected the 24-year-old to maintain the momentum and become one of the biggest threats in the league, but a lack of confidence saw him drop as far as becoming a bench-warmer for the Blues

Arsenal were encouraged by his potential and a £65 million switch showed how much Mikel Arteta trusted Havertz to reignite the confidence that he showed at Bayer Leverkusen

Since then, Havertz has slowly started to fire once again, scoring six and assisting two for the Gunners

Wednesday night will hopefully be another night for the Arsenal midfielder to do what he does best, and at a ground that he relishes for the memories he has created already.