Sporting CP vs Arsenal: Arsenal return to UEFA Europa League action with a trip to Sporting CP in the first leg of their last 16 tie.
- Location: Lisbon, Portugal
- Stadium: Estadio Jose Alvalade
- Date: Thursday 9 March
- Kick-off Time: 17:45 GMT / 12:45 ET / 09:45 PT
- Referee: Tobias Stieler (GER)
- VAR: Bastian Dankert (GER)
Sporting CP vs Arsenal: Match Preview:
The hosts have the immediate experience of facing a north London side after mixed success against Tottenham in the UEFA Champions League group stages. Despite their bright displays, the Portuguese giants failed to pip Spurs and Eintracht Frankfurt from their group.
After finishing third in that group, Sporting got drawn against Midtjylland in the Europa League knockout play-offs. The opposition held their ground with a 1-1 first-leg scoreline. Sporting needed a Sebastian Coates equaliser to keep the clash in their favour before turning up the heat in the second leg. The Portuguese giants breezed past the Danish club with a 4-0 scoreline to set up the clash with Arsenal.
Mikel Arteta was a bit relieved after some late stumbles in the Europa League group stage. A loss to PSV Eindhoven did not hurt their chances of finishing atop the standings, with Arsenal ending the stages with 15 points out of a possible 18.
Their status as group winners allowed the Gunners to bypass the play-offs as they patiently waited for a decent draw. Arteta will have to show the experience needed to switch the team’s focus away from a fantastic title challenge to European duties.
Arsenal will come into this game buzzing following their dramatic late win over Bournemouth. Reiss Nelson inked his name as a Gunners cult hero following the terrific late goal in the eighth minute of stoppage time at the Emirates. Arteta will surely hope they have the momentum to go far in their Europa League campaign and possibly win it.
With hopes of securing a Champions League spot via the Primeira Liga dwindling, victory in this competition might be Sporting’s best chance of returning to Europe’s top table.
Ruben Amorim’s only absentees are midfielders Daniel Braganca (knee) and Manuel Ugarte (suspension). Otherwise, he is expected to name his strongest possible XI, which includes Arsenal academy graduate Hector Bellerin.
With Arsenal firmly in the hunt for a first Premier League title in 19 years, Mikel Arteta is expected to make several changes.
He is expected to be without three key forwards in Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Jesus and Leandro Trossard, while Mohamed Elneny is their only other major injury concern.
Sporting CP vs Arsenal: Head to Head:
The two teams have locked horns four times thus far, with a couple of meetings coming in the group stage of the Europa League 2018-19 edition and two meetings coming in the erstwhile Fairs Cup.
The visitors are unbeaten in these games, recording a couple of wins while the remaining two games ended in goalless draws. Interestingly, the hosts have failed to score in these games.
Arsenal had the second-best defensive record in the group stage of the Europa League, conceding three goals in six games.
The hosts have scored 10 goals in their last four games in all competitions while the visitors have scored 12 goals in the same period.
Arsenal are unbeaten in their last six meetings against Portuguese teams while the hosts have progressed into the next round in their previous six ties against English teams in European competitions.
Sporting CP predicted lineup (3-4-3): Adan; Diomande, Coates, Inacio; Bellerin, Morita, Pedro Goncalves, Reis; Edwards, Paulinho, Santos
Arsenal predicted lineup (4-3-3): Turner; Tomiyasu, Holding, Kiwior, Tierney; Jorginho, Vieira, Xhaka; Nelson, Martinelli, Smith Rowe
SCP vs ARS: Fantasy XI
Turner; Tomiyasu, Holding, Kiwior,Inacio; Bellerin, Vieira, Xhaka;Edwards, Martinelli, Smith Rowe.