Big Match Breakdown: Sporting v Arsenal
Preview, odds and tips for Europa League
Something has to give in Lisbon tonight, as Arsenal and Sporting face off in the Europa League with a pair of 100% records. Both sides are in sterling form domestically and in Europe. But who will prevail at Estadio Jose Alvalade this evening?
You can find out live on BT Sport 2 from 5:55pm. And we’ve previewed the clash with a Big Match Breakdown.
There’s not much to go on in terms of recent head-to-head form. The last time the two sides met was way back in 1969. Arsenal prevailed 3-0 on aggregate on that occasion on their way to lifting the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
The Gunners have five wins and three stalemates against Portuguese sides in Europe, including a draw and a win across two legs against tonight’s opponents over 40 years ago. Their last match against a team from Portugal ended in a 2-0 defeat to Sporting Braga back in November 2010.
Unai Emery is expected to make changes for the trip to Lisbon. Emile Smith-Rowe could be recalled after scoring against Qarabag earlier in the month, with Danny Welbeck and Aaron Ramsey expected to line-up alongside. Matteo Guendouzi and Mohamed Elneny are expected to form a defensive midfield two, while Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang should lead the line up-front.
Sporting have doubts hanging over no fewer than seven players ahead of this match, although Jeremy Mathieu could return after missing the last five matches. Fredy Montero will start as the lone front man, with supply coming from Nani and Carlos Mane on either wing in a midfield five.
Nani may be past his prime, but the winger will have fond memories of taking on the Gunners. His pace and trickery still poses a significant threat against Arsenal’s easily exposed full-backs.
Indeed, the Gunners have the prowess going forward and creativity in midfield to take apart their opponents. But overload too much going in attack and they risk being caught out by a Sporting side who have found their shooting boots of late. Bruno Fernandes will be key for the hosts in the middle of the park.
In the likely absence of Bas Dost and Raphinha, Montero is 11/5 Anytime. Jovane Cabral has two goals in his last two Europa League matches and is a 4/1 shot. Both Teams to Score can be backed at 8/11.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing