Arsenal will be hoping to put their miserable league form behind them and take another step towards the knockout stages of the Europa League, when they host Vitória SC at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday night.
Unai Emery will be feeling the pressure to deliver following another poor display as the Gunners slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Bramall Lane on Monday night.
Irrespective of how abysmally they perform in the Premier League, Arsenal are experiencing no such troubles in Europe as they have taken maximum points from their opening two games so far. The Gunners have six points out of a possible six after emphatic 3-0 and 4-0 wins over Eintracht Frankfurt and Standard Liège respectively, meaning they sit top of Group F heading into Thursday's fixture.
Inversely, Vitória Guimarães are currently rock bottom of Group F after losing their opening two games. The Portuguese side lost 2-0 away to Standard Liège on matchday one before being beaten 1-0 at the Estádio D. Afonso Henriques by Eintracht Frankfurt in early October.
Check out 90min's preview for Thursday's fixture below.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Thursday 24 October|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||20:00 (BST)|
|Where Is it Played?||The Emirates Stadium|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||BT Sport 2 HD|
|Referee?||Serdar Gözübüyük (NED)|
Following Alexandre Lacazette's return from injury after sustaining an ankle injury in the north London derby in September, Emery practically has a full squad to choose from.
Reiss Nelson is the only absentee as the 19-year-old remains sidelined until November after the England Under-21 international injured his knee ligaments against Standard Liège.
Expect to see a much changed side to the one that fell short against Sheffield United on Monday night. Emiliano Martinez will return in between the sticks, while Hector Bellerín, Kieran Tierney, Rob Holding and Shkodran Mustafi should all feature in defence.
Joe Willock, Lucas Torreira and even the inconspicuous Mesut Özil could all return to the Arsenal midfield on Thursday, while wonderkids Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith-Rowe are expected to lead the line for the Gunners.
Meanwhile, Vitória manager Ivo Vieira has a few injury concerns of his own. Os Vimaranense remain without Valeriy Bondarenko after the Ukrainian underwent surgery last Saturday for a broken hand. Midfielder Lucas Evangelista (thigh) is sidelined and goalkeeper Miguel Silva has only just returned to conditioned training and is therefore doubtful for Thursday's fixture.
|Arsenal||Martinez; Bellerīn, Mustafi, Holding, Tierney; Torreira, Willock, Ceballos; Maitland-Niles, Smith-Rowe, Martinelli.|
|Vitória SC||Douglas Jesus; Sacko, Tapsoba, Henrique, Hanin; Agu, Poha, Pêpê; Edwards, Davidson, Bonatini|
Head to Head Record
Thursday's meeting will be the first between Arsenal and Vitória, however the two do share some minor history, as midfielder Sebastian Svärd joined Vitória on loan from Arsenal for the 2005/06 season.
The Gunners have sporadic success against Portuguese opposition in Portugal, however their home record is impeccable (W4 D1 L1), with no defeats or goals conceded in the last five matches. Arsenal had enjoyed four straight wins against Portuguese teams in the Champions League (all coming against Porto) before a 0-0 draw against Sporting CP in the 2018/19 Europa League group stage ended their winning run.
Os Conquistadores have played English opposition twice with both games coming in the first round of the UEFA Cup. The Guimarães club registered two defeats, losing 5-0 against Aston Villa in 1983 and 2-0 against Harry Redknapp's Portsmouth in 2008, with goals coming from Jermain Defoe and Lassana Diarra.
Both Arsenal and Vitória hold similar positions in their respective leagues, Arsenal currently sit in fifth place in the Premier League, while Vitória occupy fourth spot in the Premeira Liga table behind usual suspects FC Porto and Benfica, with newly promoted FC Famalicāo top of the table.
However, the pairs European form differ irrefutably with Arsenal topping Group F with six points, meanwhile the Portuguese outfit languish at the bottom with no points and no goals scored thus far.
Arsenal have amassed seven points at home in each of their previous two Europa League group stage campaigns. The Gunners have not conceded home or away in any of their last seven group games and have won seven of their last eight Europa League matches.
With that said, here is how both teams have fared in their previous five fixtures.
|Sheffield United 1-0 Arsenal (21/10)||Sintra 1-1 (4-3p) Vitória SC (19/10)|
|Arsenal 1-0 Bournemouth (06/10)||Vitória SC 0-1 Eintracht Frankfurt (03/10)|
|Arsenal 4-0 Standard Liège (03/10)||Vitória SC 1-0 Paços Ferreira (29/09)|
|Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal (30/09)||Tondela 1-3 Vitória SC (22/09)|
|Arsenal 5-0 Nottingham Forest (22/09)||Standard Liège 2-0 Vitória SC (19/09)|
Arsenal will be looking to bounce back following a (not so) shock defeat to Sheffield United and extend their lead at the top of Group F.
The Gunners have scored seven in the Europa League without conceding any so far this campaign and another clean sheet should be on the cards against a Vitória side who have not scored a single goal in the Europa League group stage.
With the young guns firing on all cylinders, expect another comprehensive victory on Thursday night.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Vitória SC