Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal return to Europa League action on Thursday when they face Sporting Lisbon in the first leg of the round of 16.
The Gunners enjoyed a dominant group stage, winning five matches and losing only once as they finished first in Group A.
Arteta’s side clinched a dramatic 3-2 home win over Bournemouth – with Thomas Partey, Ben White and Reiss Nelson scoring goals for the Premier League leaders.
As for Sporting, they come into play after a 1-0 away win at Portimonense. The Portuguese side advanced to the current phase of the Europa League after beating FC Midtjylland 5-1 on aggregate.
Sportsmail has everything you need to know ahead of Sporting Lisbon vs Arsenal.
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal will go into the match after a 3-2 win over Bournemouth
Sporting Lisbon advanced to the round of 16 after defeating FC Midtjylland
When is Sporting Lisbon vs Arsenal?
Sporting’s clash with the Gunners will take place on Thursday, and the game will start at 17:45.
The clash will take place at Jose Alvalade Stadium, where Sporting have won three of their last five matches in all competitions.
The two teams last met in 2018 when both teams drew 0-0 with Emirates in the Europa League group stage.
Sporting are hoping Pedro Goncalves will add to his tally of 12 goals in all competitions this season. The Portuguese winger has scored four goals in his last five matches for the team.
As for the Gunners, Bukayo Saka has been their star player this season, scoring 11 goals in all competitions. The Englishman has scored three goals in his last five games for Arsenal.
Pedro Goncalves (left) will be hoping to shock Bukayo Saka (right) and his Arsenal teammates
How to watch?
Thursday’s clash between Sporting and Arsenal will be shown live on BT Sport 2, with coverage starting at 5.15pm.
The broadcast will also be streamed on the official BT Sport app.
Highlights will be uploaded to the official BT Sport YouTube channel after the match.
Sportsmail will also provide live coverage of the Sporting vs Arsenal game so you can keep up to date with all the latest happenings here.
Thursday’s clash between Sporting and Arsenal will take place at Jose Alvalade Stadium
The Gunners have received a lot of support recently as striker Gabriel Jesus recently returned to training.
Jesus has not played for Arteta since November’s 2-0 win over Wolves due to a knee injury.
Given that the Brazilian has only just returned to training, it is unlikely he will start against Sporting. With Eddie Nketiah also injured, Arteta can call on Gabriel Martinelli to run the line.
After being named on the bench in the last game, Jorginho could be given a chance to start in midfield alongside Granit Xhaka and Martin Odegaard.
As for Sporting, the only major absentee is Manuel Ugarte. The midfielder will miss the match against Arsenal due to suspension.
Predicted Sporting Lisbon XI (3-4-3): Adanu; Inacio, Coates, St. Juste; Esgaio, Tanlongo, Morita, Reis; Edwards, Paulinho, Goncalves
Predicted Arsenal XI (4-3-3): Turner; White, Holding, Gabriel, Tomiyasu; Odegaard, Jorginho, Xhaka; Saka, Martinelli, Smith Rowe
Gabriel Martinelli can lead the line against Sporting with Nketiah injured and Jesus not ready
Manuel Ugarte will be without key midfielder Manuel Ugarte against Arsenal
What was said?
Before the game, Arteta understands that his team is facing a difficult match and believes that Sporting are a “competitive” team.
“Their strength is the manager’s idea, which is very clear. He has had a lot of success in recent years, said Arteta at the pre-match press conference.
“We watched a lot of their games against Tottenham and the big teams in Portugal. They are a very competitive team with a clear game plan. We have to give our best to win this match.
The Spaniard has dismissed any talk of the Gunners being favorites to progress to the next round.
Mikel Arteta knows his team will face a tough match against Sporting Lisbon
Ruben Amorim believes his Sporting are ready to face Arsenal’s best
“It’s going to be a tough game for both teams. Both very competitive, we have a very clear idea. It promises to be a very difficult match at this stadium against a team with a lot of tradition, but we want to win.
As for Sporting, manager Ruben Amorim believes his side are poised to face the “best” of Arsenal in Thursday’s clash with the London side.
“First of all, we know the Arsenal spirit very well. They want to win every game and that’s why they were able to win right after the beep,” Amorim said at his pre-match press conference.
– You say how they celebrate victories. We are ready to face the best Arsenal and we know they will be a very tough opponent. We are all excited and looking forward to the game.
Odds Sporting Lisbon – Arsenal
Sporting Lisbon win – 13.05
Arsenal win – 21.10
Draw – 23.10
Sporting Lisbon to win; Most corners for Sporting Lisbon and most cards for Arsenal – 22/1
Odds via Paddy Power and current at time of publication
The Gunners have enjoyed a great season so far and will be full of confidence against Sporting
With Arsenal having a great season at the moment, the Gunners will be full of confidence ahead of the clash with Sporting.
Arteta’s side have only the Premier League and Europa League left to play at the end of the season. Therefore, the London team will aim to challenge on all fronts and win two trophies this season.
As for Sporting, the Portuguese club took a comfortable win in the last round but will be aware that a tougher test awaits them against the Gunners.
Amorim’s side will look to build on their home advantage and give Arsenal plenty of work to do when the two clubs meet again next week.
Prediction – Arsenal win 2-1