Arsenal vs Sporting – Analysis, Prediction, Team News
Thursday 16th March 2023
As part of our Europa League Predictions, we take a look at the second leg between Arsenal and Sporting. A roller-coaster game produced a 2-2 draw in the first leg – more goals here? Read on with our Arsenal vs Sporting prediction.
Sporting (EL and CL)
Arsenal vs Sporting Match Preview
Arsenal come into the game in excellent form. Indeed, the Gunners have won all their previous five league games, including a comfortable 3-0 victory away to Fulham at the weekend. They have scored 15 goals across this period and kept three clean sheets. Their challenge for a first Premier League title since 2004 continues unabated – they have a five-point lead from chasers Man City, with both teams having played 27 games. As the season’s final stretch comes, Arsenal will have to juggle this competition with the league (if they progress here) – they don’t have the deepest squad, so it will be interesting to see how they get on.
Sporting come into the game on their own good run of form, having won their last four games in the Primeira Liga, keeping three clean sheets. They travel to the Emirates after a comfortable 3-0 home victory against Boavista. They are fourth in the table, a massive fifteen points behind Benfica, which Sporting will find unacceptable. Sporting have won half their away league games this season (six from twelve) and have only lost once on their travels in Europe. Therefore, they are decent on the road.
The first leg last week was topsy-turvy. Sporting made it 2-1 through goals by Inacio and Paulinho after Saliba had given Arsenal an early lead. Morita’s own goal in the 62nd minute made it honours even. The xG stats were pretty even, with Arsenal having 2.24 to Sporting’s 2.19, which reflected the final score. Arsenal had 61 per cent of the ball, which Sporting won’t have minded as they like playing on the break against better sides.
Arsenal have won all their home games in the Europa League this season, without conceding a goal. However, having conceded two last week, they will be wary of the threat Sporting pose in this second leg.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might Not Play: Nketiah
Will Not Play: Elneny
Might Not Play: Adan, Bellerin
Will Not Play: Braganca
Arsenal vs Sporting Lineups (Predicted)
Arsenal (4-3-3): Turner; Zinchenko, Kiwior, Saliba, Tomiyasu; Partey, Xhaka, Vieira; Smith-Rowe, Martinelli, Nelson
Sporting CP (3-4-2-1 / 3-4-3): Adan; Inacio, Coates, Diomande; Santos, Morita, Ugarte, Esgaio; Pedro Goncalves, Edwards; Paulinho
Arsenal vs Sporting Analysis
Arsenal Will Likely Take The Game To Sporting On Home Soil
Arsenal played a relatively strong side last week. They started most of their first string, including one of their star man, Saka. They will likely go with a similar strength side again here. Arsenal have a better team and players and are used to dominating the ball (especially at the Emirates), so we fully expect to have north of 60 per cent possession (or even above 65 per cent) as they did in Portugal and control the game. Partey may come back into the team in the holding midfield role. He offers much more dynamism and speeding up of the play than the less athletic Jorginho can.
One player who might be rested again is Odegaard. The Norwegian wasn’t even in the squad this week, and we feel Arsenal missed him. Regular readers will know of our insistence that Odegaard is a vital component in this Arsenal side in how he connects midfield and attack and finds spaces between the lines to make the play. In short, he makes them tick. We may be wrong, and coach Mikel Arteta might start him, but if he doesn’t play, Arsenal lose a little in fluency, giving Sporting more hope. The talented Vieira will likely fulfil Odegaard’s role if he doesn’t play.
If Arsenal’s front three is Smith-Rowe, Martinelli, and Nelson, the two wingers must attack the Sporting wing-backs down the sides. Both have barely played this season, so they must be creative. As with Odegaard, Saka may start or come off the bench. As his recent escapades prove, Martinelli has been thriving in his central role and clearly has an eye for goal. He will use clever movement to attempt to get into positions where he can get scoring chances.
Other possible attacking options for Arsenal include Trossard and the returning Jesus. Indeed, Jesus’s comeback after a lengthy injury lay-off is a massive shot in the arm for Arsenal.
Sporting Will Probably Play On The Counter-Attack
Sporting tend to be a possession team in the Primeira Liga. However, this is because they are one of the better teams with more resources. They are underdogs coming up against a flying Arsenal side – especially at the Emirates. Therefore, they realistically cannot come to London and expect to run the game. Consequently, we anticipate them being defensively organised and trying to hit Arsenal on the break. Sporting are not a negative team, and we don’t think they will fully ‘park the bus’ to use that crude term. However, coach Sergio Conceicao is smart enough to know not to go gung-ho here as they could get torn to pieces.
Sporting’s best hope is to try to be sound at the back, industrious, and press in midfield. The returning Ugarte helps with this, and he and Morita in midfield must try to close Arsenal down. If they can win the ball deeper, they can quickly release the likes of Goncalves, Edwards, and Trincao in the attacking midfield and wide areas. The wingers are all tricky dribblers with excellent close control and inventiveness. As we said for the first leg, if Sporting are to get anything, it will likely emanate from them and the finishing of Paulinho up front.
At the same time, Santos and Esgaio (or Bellerin) will supplement the attack from wing-back when they can. Generally speaking, Sporting must get the balance right – they must pick and choose when to hold their shape and when they see an opportunity to win the ball and expose Arsenal by disrupting their rhythm. It will be a challenging task, but Sporting must take it on.
Arsenal have been simply sensational this season, and in their quest for the Premier League title, they have answered their critics and doubters at every step. There have been comfortable wins, beautiful football, and a few comebacks which display the steel many have said the club lacks. They want a double of the league and the Europa League. Much will depend on the team that Arsenal send out in this second leg. As alluded to, they don’t have the deepest squad, but they still have enough good players to put out a team that can beat Sporting on home soil.
Sporting, alternatively, are in good recent form, but their overall league campaign has been disappointing. They might see winning the Europa League as their best chance of playing Champions League football next season, particularly if Braga maintain their form. Therefore, they’ll likely be giving everything in this game. However, it shouldn’t be enough. Arsenal are experiencing a great moment and will want to continue winning to keep the momentum going.
We were going to predict 2-1 Arsenal, but we will be more expansive since Arsenal are good at home. We will go for 3-1. We are even more confident in that prediction if Odegaard and/or Saka play.
Arsenal 3-1 Sporting
Arsenal vs Sporting Betting Tip – Arsenal Odds:
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