Arsenal’s season has gone from strength to strength under Unai Emery and he will be looking to seal his side’s progression through to the latter stages of the Europa League with victory against Sporting.
The Gunners have only dropped points on four occasions this season and given that three of them were against Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool with their 1-1 draw at the weekend and an unlucky result. In the Europa League, they have shown that they’ve got a strong enough squad for the group stages at least, and even a point could be enough if Vorskla lose to Qarabag.
In any case their Europa League form is pretty convincing. They opened up with a 4-2 home win over Vorskla Poltava before wins over Qarabag (3-0) and Sporting (1-0) on their travels. That win in their Portugal was a gutsy one, with Danny Welbeck pouncing on a Sebastian Coates error for the winner, but it did show a new resolve that perhaps people felt Arsenal had lost.
However, they improved on a sloppy start there and were increasing the pressure before Welbeck had a headed goal ruled out after he was judged to have fouled the defender in the build-up, and eventually ended with seven shots on target to the hosts’ none.
That difference ought to be more pronounced at the Emirates, where Arsenal have scored 20 goals in eight home games this season, and they are also unbeaten this season. Alex Iwobi was a marked improvement when he came on for Mkhitaryan in the second half and he is likely to start with Aaron Ramsey, giving them a potent forward line whether Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang starts or not.
Arsenal v Sporting Lisbon
Europa League, 20:00
BT Sport 2 HD/4K UHD
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches)
Oct 2018 EUROPA LEAGUE Sporting 0-1 Arsenal
Nov 1969 FAIRS CUP Arsenal 3-0 Sporting
Oct 1969 FAIRS CUP Sporting 0-0 Arsenal
This game should be a little more expansive than the previous encounter in Portugal and there could be more goals – Sporting have also kept just two clean sheets in their last nine matches. Arsenal have covered a one-goal handicap in two of their three Europa League games and in eight games this season, so that seems the best bet in a cagey market.
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