While everything is going to plan in the Premier League, Arsenal return to Europa League action Thursday night with plenty of work to do if they are to book their passage to the quarterfinals ahead of Sporting CP. Last week, they drew 2-2 in Lisbon, frittering away an early lead with sloppy defending even if their attack still looked to be in fine fettle.
The Gunners have won all their three European games at home this season without so much as a goal conceded but Ruben Amorim’s side might be the toughest opponent they have faced so far, winners of five of their last six games. Both sides come into this game off the back of impressive 3-0 wins at the weekend, and this could be the game of the round. Here is how you can watch it and what you need to know:
How to watch and odds
- Date: Thursday, March 16 | Time: 4 p.m. ET
- Location: Emirates Stadium — London, England
- TV and live stream: Paramount+
- Odds: Arsenal -286; Draw +380; Sporting +800 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Arsenal: The three points garnered at Fulham on Sunday might have been the most significant boost to Arsenal’s season but not far behind was the return of Gabriel Jesus, who could ramp up his return after playing 13 minutes off the bench in a match-long since won. Equally, Mikel Arteta could simply conclude that his No. 9 is best held in reserve, challenged to fight for his place against Leandro Trossard, who assisted all three Arsenal goals in their win at Craven Cottage.
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“He needs to earn his place like anyone else in the team,” Arteta said of Jesus last week. “We have alternatives that can play in different positions and we have different roles to fill in relation to the chemistry of the players and what we ask them to do. It’s a great problem to have, believe me.”
Among those alternate options who could also cause headaches for Arteta are Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith Rowe, both of whom were on the bench on Sunday.
Sporting: If the Portuguese giants achieve nothing else between now and the end of the season, they can at least take solace in having scored arguably the goal of the year, Nuno Santos’ magnificent rabona strike against Boavista at the weekend. It was a match where they rested several players with an eye to the trip to London, one which Sebastian Coates and Hidemasa Morita will not make due to the yellow cards they picked up in the first leg.
“The tie is open. It’s difficult, obviously,” said Amorim after the first leg. “Arsenal are a team that pushes opponents to play on the edge of their area; we have to be able to defend. I would be happier if [the first match] had ended 2-1 or 3-1, which it could have been, but after we believe even more strongly that we can go through.”
Goals could well flow in this tie, one which Arsenal are favorites to just about shade. PICK: Arsenal 3, Sporting 2 (after extra time)