Written By Onyeka Daniel
Today at the Emirates stadium, Arsenal will welcome Portuguese side, Sporting Lisbon to England for the second leg fixture of their round of 16 Europa League fixture with both teams having equal chances of progressing after playing a 2-2 draw in the first leg a week ago.
After that draw, Arsenal still went on strong in the EPL, whipping Fulham 3-0 at the weekend and they will now turn their attention quickly back to Sporting Lisbon once again as the game remains on the knife edge, but with seven wins from nine home games against Portuguese clubs in European competition. They have also won five of their last seven UEFA ties in which they drew the away leg first.
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Arsenal will hope they can tip the balance in their favour at the Emirates and the return of Gabriel Jesus will be a further boost for the EPL League leaders. After coming from behind twice in the first leg, Sporting will be brewing with some confidence going into the second leg and they will feel that they can get a favorable result from this game even if they’re the inferior side.
They’ve progressed from each of their previous six ties against English sides in the knockout stages of Europa League. Like Arsenal, Sporting are coming into this game buoyed by a 3-0 domestic win at the weekend, and with their unbeaten run now standing at seven games, they may fancy they can pull off an upset.
Sporting’s record against English sides is something that they would be hoping doesn’t play against them, as they’re winless in their last nine away games against English opposition in major European competition. Spanish card dishing referee, A. Lahoz will be in charge of proceedings.
Style Of Play
Arsenal will be playing a 4-3-3 formation with the option of playing with either a false nine or start Jesus in attack from the first minute. They like to press their opponent and attack in number, whole applying a high press when out of possession. For Sporting, the 3-4-3 formation is assured and they play almost the same style with their opponent except that they use the passive press that becomes active when the opponent crosses the half way line.
In their last 20 games played across all competitions, Arsenal have 12 wins, 3 draws and 5 losses. They’re currently on a 6 games unbeaten run which would have been a winning run except for that draw against Sporting in the first leg. The Lisbon based club in their last 20 games played across all competitions have 14 wins, 3 draws and 3 losses.
Head To Head
Both teams have faced each other thrice, all in the Europa League. In 2018 when they first met, Arsenal defeated Sporting in Portugal (1-0) before playing a goalless draw at the Emirates stadium in the second leg. Now, they’ve played a 2-2 draw in Portugal in the first leg. It should be noted that there previous meeting was in the group stage while this is a knockout phase.
Players To Watch
Expect Gabriel Jesus to play a part in this game. If he doesn’t start, he will surely get some minutes in his legs and what better way to mark his return from injury than with a goal that sends the team into the next stage of the competition. With support from the likes of Saka, Martinelli and Trossard, nothing can go wrong. For Sporting, they will be looking to former Barcelona player, Trincao to help create some magic.
Injuries And Suspensions
Eddie Nketiah and Mohamed Elneny will be missing for Arsenal while Sporting will be without Hector Bellerin and D. Braganca through injury. For S. Coates and H. Morita, they will be serving suspension due to yellow card accumulation.
Arsenal will want this game more even if they’re expected to rest some of their first team players but they possess enough quality to see off any challenge from the Portuguese side (2-0) in favor of the Gunners.
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