Thursday, November 15, 2018

Prediction: Arsenal vs Sporting CP

Verdict: Over 3.5 goals – yes

Best Odds: 31/20

Bookmaker: 888sport

Arsenal might have started the season with consecutive losses, but they have been nearly unstoppable after that. That dominance has been reflected in the UEFA Europa League, where they have won their first three group-stage matches, and are one win away from securing a spot in the knockout stages. They will aim at getting that win against Sporting CP, as the Portuguese side will travel to the Emirates Stadium on Thursday. Kick-off has been announced at 20:00 BST.

Arsenal

The Gunners have been playing at a very high level for most of the season, and they enter this game on high spirits following a huge 1-1 home draw to Liverpool the last time out. Even though Unai Emery’s men have drawn their last two Premier League matches, the London-based side does not seem to be slowing down as they currently own a perfect record in the UEFA Europa League group stage, with three wins in their first three matches, eight goals scored and only two conceded. Arsenal began their campaign with a 4-2 win over Vorskla Poltava, but later recorded consecutive clean sheet against both Qarabag (0-3, away) and Sporting CP (0-1, away). Granted, Arsenal are clearly a few steps above their opponents when it comes to their European experience and pedigree, but that shouldn’t take anything away from them. After all, we have seen top sides struggle in the Europa League in the past. Can The Gunners take another step to clinch their berth in the next round as soon as possible?

Team News

Arsenal will be considerably depleted ahead of this game, as four players have been confirmed as out. The list includes Mohamed Elneny (thigh), Matteo Guendouzi (suspension), Laurent Koscielny (calf) and Konstantinos Mavropanos (groin).

As if that wasn’t enough, Nacho Monreal (thigh) and Sokratis (ankle) have been listed as doubtful. And we have not even included some of the potential rotation changes Unai Emery has been making during the Europa League matches to keep the side fresh.

Sporting CP

Don’t sleep on Sporting CP, though. The Portuguese-based side might have lost the previous fixture against Arsenal, but they recorded solid wins before as they didn’t have issues to top both Qarabag (2-0, home) and Vorskla Poltava (1-2, away). A win here could put them level with Arsenal, but it would also put them on the verge of qualification to the next round. But reality shows that Sporting still have a few steps to go before getting close to Arsenal, as The Gunners own a team that could easily compete in the UEFA Champions League this term. At the domestic level, Sporting currently sit in third place with 19 points (W6, D1, L2), but have won three of their last four domestic outings and are coming off a 2-1 away win at Santa Clara. Will they manage to pull the upset at the Emirates, or will they decide their fate in the final two games of the Group Stage?

Team News

Sporting CP have no confirmed absentees ahead of this game. However, some players are doubtful and will be game-time decisions.

The list includes Wendel (undisclosed), Emiliano Viviano (neck), Raphinha (thigh) and Stefan Ristovski (thigh).

Key Factors to Consider

  • Arsenal would secure qualification to the Round of 32 – with two games to spare – if they win here.
  • The Gunners might be new to the Europa League, but their home record certainly looks impressive. They have lost just once through eight games, showing a W5, D2, L1 record.
  • Arsenal have scored two or more goals in 12 of their last 15 competitive home matches. They have also scored three or more goals in nine of those contests.
  • Sporting have scored exactly two goals in four consecutive away fixtures (in all competitions).
  • However, the Portuguese side has failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 30 European away matches.

Conclusion

Arsenal have been quite a scoring machine, and they are not going to let the chance of clinching a spot in the next round slip away just like that. Even if Sporting can pose a decent threat to their chances.

Based on where both sides are at the moment, I expect this game to be very open. And we could certainly witness over 3.5 goals scored in total.

Verdict: Over 3.5 goals – yes

Best Odds: 31/20

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juan Pablo Aravena


A freelance writer and sports analyst with almost five years of experience in the industry before joining SoccerNews, Juan Pablo Aravena is based in Chile and currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews, 12up, and Sports From The Basement, while also working as a fantasy beat writer for RotoWire, as a database editor for EA Sports, and as a football analyst for SmartOdds and InsideFutbol. His areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, LaLiga, and Ligue 1, but he has also written about MLS and South American football in the past.

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