Big Game Focus: Sporting v Arsenal

The Big Game Focus today previews the Europa League clash between Sporting and Arsenal in Group E.

Sporting and Arsenal have won their first two matches of the group, at the expense of Vorskla and Qarabağ. After the match in Portugal tonight, they will clash again at the Emirates in two weeks’ time. A minimum of four points for either side from both those matches will all but guarantee qualification.

Here is our preview of the match, including betting tips, team news and likely line-ups.

Betting tips

Both sides have treated us to high scoring matches in recent weeks. There have been at least three goals in six of Sporting’s 11 competitive matches this season. The same goes for nine out of Arsenal’s last 12 games. Over 2.5 Goals has also occurred in all of Arsenal’s five away games this season. Bet on Over 2.5 Goals at odds of 1.70 here.

It’s been decades since these two sides last did battle. The last time they played was in a two-headed encounter in 1969/70, in the now-obsolete Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. The Gunners held the Leões to a goalless draw in Lisbon, before handing them a 3-0 spanking at Highbury.

At the moment however, Arsenal are on a sensational 10 game winning streak, and it will take significant effort from Sporting to stop them. An Away Win for Arsenal is valued at 1.80 here.

If Sporting want to take anything from this match, they will have to be at their defensive best in the second half. The Gunners have been coming alive in the second period of matches recently, as they have scored 12 of their last 14 goals after the break. Odds for the Second Half With Most Goals are at 2.10 here.

Team News

A swarm of injuries has swept over the Sporting camp, leaving the participation of Romain Salin, Jeremy Mathieu, Raphinha, Stefano Sturaro, Bas Dost, Rodrigo Battaglia and Bruno Cesar in doubt.

Arsenal will once again be deprived of Petr Čech, who is still sidelined with a hamstring injury. Sokratis Papastathopoulos has been out for a while and the Gunners will also have to do without Carl Jenkinson, Laurent Koscielny, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Manager Unai Emery has hinted at the possibility of fielding a full-strength side.

Likely line-ups

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

Arsenal: Leno; Bellerin, Sokratis, Holding, Lichtsteiner; Guendouzi, Elneny; Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Welbeck; Aubameyang.