UEFA Europa League: Sporting vs Arsenal preview


Arsenal are looking to extend their amazing winning streak to eleven games in all competitions, but Sporting will provide though opposition when they clash in UEFA Europa League Group E at Jose Alvalade Stadium in Lisbon on Thursday. This will be the first ever meeting between the two sides, but both have plenty of experience in Europe. Sporting have a balanced record from their matches against English teams in European competitions, they have won nine and lost nine of the 21 encounters so far. Arsenal are in a similar situation against Portuguese teams, they have won four and lost four of their ten previous matches against opponents from this country. However, the Gunners have never won an away match in Portugal.

Sporting are not having the best of starts in the Portuguese league, they have already lost two matches out of seven, but their UEFA Europa League campaign is right on track so far. They started with a 2-0 victory at home over Qarabag and then secured a 2-1 victory at Vorksla Poltava thanks to two stoppage-time goals. Last week they grabbed another 2-1 away victory, but that time it was in the Portuguese Cup against Loures. Sporting have several injury concerns ahead of this match, including strikers Bas Dost and Raphinha who are both in doubt for Thursday's match. However, defender Jeremy Mathieu has returned to training this week and might be ready for the match.

Arsenal are enjoying a great moment, they have won their last ten matches in all competitions and have scored three or more goals in each of the last three. On Monday the Gunners completed a fine fightback from 1-0 down to defeat Leicester 3-1, Mesut Ozil scored the first goal and then created the following two, both scored by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gunners have won both their Europa League matches so far, 4-2 at home against Vorksla Poltava and 3-0 at Qarabag before the international break. Petr Cech and Sokratis Papasthatopoulos have recovered from their injuries and might be able to play on Thursday, while Aubameyang, Aaron Ramsey and Matteo Guendouzi should make the starting eleven after substitute appearances against Leicester.

Probable line-ups:

Sporting: Salin - Gaspar, Coates, Mathieu, Jefferson - Nani, Fernandes, Gudelj, Acuna, Mane - Montero

Arsenal: Leno - Bellerin, Holding, Sokratis, Lichtsteiner - Elneny, Guendouzi - Smith-Rowe, Ramsey, Welbeck - Aubameyang

My prediction: 1-1 draw, Arsenal won't play with the best eleven and Sporting will be looking to take advantage of that.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Sporting win - 3.80
Draw - 3.50
Arsenal win - 2.10

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