Arsenal vs Sporting CP: Prediction and Preview
After drawing 2-2 in the first leg of this UEFA Europa League Last 16 tie in Lisbon last week, Arsenal and Sporting CP meet again on Thursday night for a place in the quarter-finals. We look ahead to the match with the key Opta insights and prediction.
• Arsenal are the big favourites to defeat Sporting CP in this match at the Emirates (69.8%) with the Opta supercomputer.
• Sporting CP haven’t won any of their last nine European away games against English clubs.
• Gabriel Martinelli’s excellent form for Arsenal makes him their man of the moment.
Arsenal host Sporting CP looking to reach the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals, with the tie perfectly poised following a 2-2 draw in the first leg at the José Alvalade Stadium in Lisbon last week.
The north London club are unbeaten in five meetings with Sporting CP, winning two and drawing three, although the last two meetings have ended level. They’ve kept a clean sheet in both of their home matches against Sporting CP to date, beating them 3-0 in the Fairs Cup in November 1969, and drawing nil-nil against them in this competition in November 2018.
Sporting will have to improve their recent away record against English clubs, having failed to win any of their last nine trips there in major European competition (W0 D4 L5). Their last victory away against an English club came in the 2004-05 UEFA Cup when they defeated Middlesbrough 3-2 in their last 16 tie. The Gunners haven’t won any of their last three knockout games at the Emirates Stadium in the UEFA Europa League, however. Since beating Benfica there in February 2021 (3-2), they’ve drawn two and lost one at home.
Sporting CP went a fourth successive European meeting with English opposition unbeaten thanks to their 2-2 draw in the first leg of this UEFA Europa League tie with Arsenal.
After falling behind to William Saliba’s first-ever goal in European competition, Gonçalo Inácio’s first-half strike and Paulinho’s 55th-minute goal put them into the lead. With his goal, Paulinho became just the second player in history to score against both Arsenal and their north London rivals Spurs in European competition within a single season (excluding qualifiers).
A Hidemasa Morita own goal levelled the scores coming into this second leg, but it meant that Arsenal have only won one of their last six European knockout matches (D3 L2).
Since losing their Premier League clash with Manchester City on 15 February (3-1), Arsenal are unbeaten in six matches across all competitions, winning five and drawing one. They have seen nine different players (excluding own goals) score for them in this six-game run, with Gabriel Martinelli’s five goals more than double any other player.
Mikel Arteta’s side finished top of their Europa League group, winning five of their six games this season (L1). No side won more in the group stages. Despite scoring just eight goals across their six matches, their solid defence helped them stroll the group, as they conceded just three goals in the group stage.
Rúben Amorim’s side are on a seven-game unbeaten run coming into this match (W5 D2) and defeated Boavista 3-0 in the Primeira Liga on Sunday, thanks to Nuno Santos’ exceptional rabona strike, a Salvador Agra own goal and Paulinho’s injury-time goal.
They are currently unbeaten in six successive away games in all competitions, winning each of the last five since a 2-2 draw at Lisbon rivals Benfica on 15 January. Attacking midfielder Pedro Gonçalves has scored five goals in this run.
Sporting CP have entered the Europa League after finishing third in Group D of their Champions League group stage, ahead of Marseille but behind both Tottenham and Eintracht Frankfurt. The Portuguese side lost just one of their three away games in the group (4-1 at Marseille), as they drew 1-1 at Spurs and won 3-0 away in Frankfurt.
Following his goal at the weekend in the Premier League win over Fulham, Gabriel Martinelli has already scored twice as many goals across all competitions in 2022-23 (12) as his previous best season in 2021-22 (six).
His 12 goals make him Arsenal’s leading scorer across all competitions this season, with one more goal than Bukayo Saka (11) and two more than Martin Ødegaard (10). His 53 chances created from open play is only behind Ødegaard’s 56 in all competitions in 2022-23 at the club.
Martinelli has scored five goals in his last six appearances for Arsenal, his best goal return over a six-game period across his Arsenal career since October 2019 (seven goal in six games).
Former Spurs winger Marcus Edwards was born less than 10 miles away from the Emirates Stadium, so he’ll be feeling at home in Thursday night’s clash between Sporting and Arsenal.
Edwards has already scored 10 goals at club level in 2022-23, which is one off his all-time season high, set last season (11) between spells at Sporting CP and former club Vitória Guimarães.
Since the start of last season, no player in the Portuguese Primeira Liga has beaten an opponent with a dribble more often than the Englishman (105), while only nine players have had a hand in more goals across the competition than he has (24 – 16 goals, eight assists).
The Opta supercomputer is making Arsenal the favourites for this match, with a 69.8% likelihood of winning against Sporting CP at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday.
The Premier League leaders have won 13 of their 17 home games in all competitions in 2022-23 so far, with just two defeats against Man City in the Premier League and Brighton in the League Cup.
Sporting haven’t been given much chance of getting a win in this fixture (12.4%). A draw could be enough to take them through if they manage to take the game to penalties, and there’s a 17.8% chance of a draw at 90 minutes of this game, based on the supercomputer’s calculations.
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