Arsenal and Sporting CP will be involved once again on Thursday at the Emirates Stadium after a wild and unpredictable 2-2 draw in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 contest.
Both teams come into the second leg of the match off 3-0 victories at home, with the hosts defeating Fulham and Ruben Amorim’s side thrashing Boavista.
The hallmarks of last week’s first leg at the Jose Alvalade Stadium were sloppy goals and poor set-piece defending that left a lot to be desired. William Saliba nodded Arsenal in ahead before Goncalo Inacio matched him for Sporting with a header of his own from a corner.
Ten minutes into the second half, Paulinho looked set to give Sporting the win but when Arsenal needed a tremendous bit of luck, Hidemasa Morita came through, as Granit Xhaka’s cross cannoned off the Japanese midfielder and into the goal to end an action-packed draw.
Only a shocking collapse would prevent Mikel Arteta’s team from making their long-awaited Champions League comeback at this point, and a record-breaking Premier League and Europa League double is still in the cards for the nnserGu, who are attempting to snap a three-game winless run at home Europa League knockout matches.
Since beating Middlesbrough in the 2004–05 UEFA Cup, Sporting has gone winless in nine games in England.
The Spaniard's team are now giving up too many easy goals, as Arteta hinted after the first leg, and a reorganized defense may not have much luck against a lethal Sporting frontline. Yet, Sporting's offensive efforts may go in vain against an Arsenal team that is the master of overcoming hardship because Morita and Coates are out. Thus, we are picking the Gunners to secure their spot in the round of eight.