By 90Min
November 07, 2018

With Arsenal three wins from three in this year's Europa League, the Gunners next face Sporting CP at the Emirates on Thursday evening. 

The reverse fixture, played at Sporting's Estádio José Alvalade, ended in a 1-0 victory for Arsenal thanks to Danny Welbeck's late winner. However, it was a competitive game and Unai Emery's side will need to be on their toes if they are to maintain their 100% record in Europe this season. 

FRANCISCO LEONG/GettyImages

With all that in mind, here's the preview for the Group E clash.


How to Watch

When Is Kick Off? Thursday 8 November
What Time Is Kick Off? 8pm (GMT)
Where Is it Played? Emirates
TV Channel/Live Stream? BT Sport 2
Referee? TBC

Team News

Arsenal are still without long-term absentee, Laurent Koscielny, who is recovering from a ruptured achilles tendon and is expected back in December. Meanwhile, Mohamed Elneny is a more recent injury problem and will likely miss the game with a hamstring injury.

Gualter Fatia/GettyImages

Three of Sporting CP's first-team regulars are injury doubts for the Europa League clash with the Gunners. Summer signing, Raphinha, is a concern having been ruled out since October 16 with an unknown injury. 

Joining him on the treatment table are Stefan Ristovski (muscle injury), Rodrigo Battaglia (cruciate ligament rupture) and Stefana Sturaro (muscle injury).


Predicted Lineups

Arsenal Cech, Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, Holding, Kolasinac, Ramsey, Guendouzi, Torreira, Iwobi, Aubameyang, Welbeck
Sporting  Ribeiro, Gaspar, Coates, Mathieu, Agbenyenu, Nani, Gudelj, Fernandes, Acuńa, Dost, Diaby

Head to Head Record

Prior to Arsenal's 1-0 victory over Sporting two weeks ago, the Gunners had only played the Portuguese side twice before - with both games taking place in 1969. 

FRANCISCO LEONG/GettyImages

The north London club drew the first of the two fixtures 0-0 in Portugal, before defeating Sporting 3-0 in the home tie. Therefore, as things stand, the Gunners have an unbeaten record to protect.

Whilst two results which took place 49 years ago will not have any bearing on Thursday's fixture, Arsenal are in fine form this season and are currently on a 14 match unbeaten run in all competitions - and will be considered favourites to win this one. 


Recent Form

As already touched upon, Arsenal's form this season has been a vast improvement on their last campaign. They are currently nine unbeaten in the Premier League and sit in fifth place, one point below Tottenham Hotspur

The Gunners are playing some electric football at times and were impressive in their 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Saturday night, showing a strong sense of character to come from a goal down. 

Following the controversy at Sporting CP in the summer, which saw a plethora of star names leave the club, the Portuguese outfit have recovered well. They are currently third in the Primeira Liga and have lost just twice in nine league games.

Here's how both teams have fared in their last five games:

Arsenal Sporting CP
Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool (03/11) Santa Clara 1-2 Sporting (04/11)
Arsenal 2-1 Blackpool (31/10) Sporting 1-2 Estoril Praia (31/10)
Crystal Palace 2-2 Arsenal (28/10) Sporting 3-0 Boavista (28/10)
Sporting CP 0-1 Arsenal (25/10) Sporting 0-1 Arsenal (25/10)
Arsenal 3-1 Leicester City (22/10) Loures 1-2 Sporting (20/10)

Prediction

With both sides doing well at the moment, this has the potential to be a close game on Thursday night. Whilst Arsenal dominated the ball in the away fixture, with 67% possession, Sporting mustered up 15 shots to the Gunners' 14, highlighting both team's attacking potency.

As is clear from both sides' recent results, defending is not their strong point and there could well be an avalanche of goals in this fixture. 

However, Arsenal are playing some impressive football of late and were brilliant at times against Liverpool. The Gunners are strong favourites with the bookies to get three points against Sporting and it is hard to look past an Arsenal win in this one. 

Prediction: Arsenal 3-1 Sporting CP

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