Premier League leaders Arsenal host Sporting CP at the Emirates Stadium for their crunch Europa League second-leg clash on Thursday night.
Following a chaotic yet thrilling 2-2 draw in Portugal in the reverse fixture, both sides still have all to play for, with the tie hanging in the balance.
William Saliba’s header handed the Gunners the lead in the first half an hour, but Goncalo Ignacio responded in kind to ensure both sides headed into the break level.
Paulinho’s tap-in 10 minutes into the second half turned the tie on its head, but Arsenal were spared by a stroke of luck when Granit Xhaka’s cross cannoned off Hidemasa Morita into the back of the net to cap off a pulsating draw.
The stalemate in Portugal halted Arsenal’s run of four consecutive wins, but the Gunners wasted no time returning to winning ways with an emphatic 3-0 success over London neighbours Fulham at the weekend.
Leandro Trossard ran the show for Mikel Arteta’s side, delivering a hat-trick of assists as Gabriel Magalhaes, Gabriel Martinelli, and captain fantastic Martin Odegaard put the Cottagers to the sword.
Having re-established their five-point lead at the top of the Premier League table, the Gunners will switch their attention to European action looking to keep their Europa League dream alive.
An unprecedented double trophy haul is still on the cards for the relentless Gunners, who will be aiming to end a three-game drought without a win in Europa League knockout home games.
Following last week’s entertaining stalemate in front of their fans, Sporting also enjoyed a 3-0 success at the weekend over mid-table side Boavista to keep their hopes of earning a spot in next season’s Champions League alive.
Nuno Santos’s strike and a Salvador Agra own goal put Ruben Amorim’s side in cruise control of the game before Paulinho came off the bench to complete the three-goal rout in stoppage time.
Sporting will travel to North London full of belief as they seek a first Europa League quarter-final berth since the 2017/18 campaign when they were eliminated by eventual winners Atletico Madrid.
A seven-game unbeaten run in all tournaments heading into the crunch clash will do their confidence the world of good, and it has been ten games since Amorim’s side last failed to find the back of the net, which also bodes well for their chances of stunning the Gunners.
Victory at Craven Cottage saw Arsenal score at least two goals for the fourth consecutive game, and they have also posted four clean sheets in their last four Europa League home matches.
Arsenal have lost just one of their nine home games against Portuguese clubs in all European competition (W7, D1), with their last defeat coming against Benfica in the 1991/92 European Cup last-16.
However, the Gunners have failed to win any of their last Europa League knockout stage games on home turf (D2, L1), although their last such success came against Portuguese opposition, beating Benfica 3-2 in February 2021.
Amorim’s men boast five successive away wins in all competitions ahead of the second-leg showdown, but they have not managed a victory on English territory since 2005.
The visitors have failed to win any of their last nine games in England since defeating Middlesbrough in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup (D4, L5).
However, eliminating Midtjylland in the play-off round saw Sporting progress from a European tie after failing to win the first leg at home for the first time in 21 attempts.
Arsenal vs Sporting CP Potential Line-ups
Arsenal (4-3-3): Aaron Ramsdale; Takehiro Tomiyasu, William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhaes, Kieran Tierney; Jorginho, Thomas Partey, Martin Odegaard; Bukayo Saka, Leandro Trossard, Gabriel Martinelli.
Sporting CP (3-4-3): Antonio Adan; Jeremiah St. Juste, Goncalo Inacio, Matheus Reis; Ricardo Esgaio, Manuel Ugarte, Pedro Goncalves, Nuno Santos; Marcus Edwards, Paulinho, Francisco Trincao.
How to Watch?
Arsenal vs Sporting, alongside all other Europa League matches this season, is available to watch online via Europa League live streams.
Arsenal vs Sporting CP Prediction
Sporting are no pushovers – they proved as much in the first leg encounter. However, Arteta’s side should have enough in the tank to see off the Portuguese side and book a spot in the last eight.
Arsenal 2-1 Sporting CP (Agg: 4-3)
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