Arsenal v Sporting: Europa League – live!

Arsenal v Sporting: Europa League – live!

08-Nov-2018 19:22:52 | The Guardian

Arsenal: Cech; Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, Holding, Jenkinson; Guendouzi; Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Iwobi, Smith-Rowe; Welbeck

Subs: Martinez, Mustafi, Kolisinac, Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Nketiah, Aubameyang

Today’s plan, as far as Unai Emery is concerned, is for Arsenal to confirm their progression to the next round of the Europa League as group winners by beating their closest rivals, Sporting. Arsenal have already downed the Portuguese in Lisbon thanks to a goal by Danny Welbeck, so victory here would make them untouchable at the top of the group by dint of their superior head-to-head record. Then they could field even weaker lineups for their two remaining group games if they so wanted, though it would be a shame to fritter away an epic unbeaten record if it is still intact by then – they could stretch it to 15 matches today.

Sporting are third in their domestic league but will be confident of advancing in this tournament even if they lose today. But a positive result here would do them a power of good in their bid to stay above Vorskla and Qarabag. Despite their staunch European pedigree, they have been historically weak in England – except, that is, in the north-east of the country, where, in the distant past, they have beaten Newcastle and Middlesbrough (they’re also knocked Sunderland out of the 1973 Cup Winners’ Cup despite losing at Roker Park) so maybe it’s about time they did a number on a team from the capital.

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