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Arsenal vs Sporting Lisbon preview: key man returns, Jenkinson to start + prediction

By on November 8, 2018

sokratis arsenal 2018

Arsenal can secure safe passage to the knockout stages of the Europa League with a win against Sporting Lisbon at the Emirates Stadium tonight.

We’ve been faultless so far with a narrow 1-0 win in the reverse fixture in Portugal two weeks ago maintaining our 100% record in Group E and we head in to tonight’s game sitting three points clear of Sporting with three games to play.

Victory would seal our place in the knockout phase but we can also virtually guarantee top spot which would take the pressure off our last two matches and allow us to focus on the Premier League.

The players showed a huge amount of character to come from behind to take a fully deserved point against Liverpool last weekend with the 1-1 draw extending our unbeaten run to 14 games in all competitions so the squad is full of confidence right now.

Team News

Arsenal are expected to be boosted by the return of Sokratis as he resumed full training this week after recovering from an ankle injury that’s kept him out for the last two matches.

However, Nacho Monreal won’t be risked as Unai Emery is being cautious with his hamstring injury so he remains on the sidelines along with Laurent Koscielny who’s still working his way back from an Achilles injury. Mo Elneny is also still out with a thigh problem.

Emery will rest our key men with the likes of Hector Bellerin, Sead Kolasinac, Granit Xhaka, Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette expected to be rested.

Sporting will be without Stefan Ristovski, Stefano Sturaro and Raphinha due to injury while Rodrigo Battaglia is also a doubt after picking up a knock at the weekend.

Preferred line-up

Hopefully Sokratis is fit enough to return to the starting eleven as I think we’ve missed him and he needs to get some football under his belt while Stephan Lichtsteiner should start in place of Bellerin at right-back. The big decision is who starts on the left and I’d give Carl Jenkinson another run out. It’s not his usual position but he did alright against Blackpool and I wouldn’t risk Kolasinac with Monreal not 100% fit.

That would allow Ainsley Maitland-Niles to start in midfield alongside Matteo Guendouzi while Aaron Ramsey can get a run-out in the No.10 role once again. I do think he’s more suited to a deeper position but Emery seems to like him further forward. Also, I’d love to see Emile Smith Rowe given another chance to impress.

This would be my line-up:

football formations

Prediction

I thought we controlled the game well in the reverse fixture two weeks ago and Sporting didn’t really look like they could hurt us so I’m confident we can secure another win tonight. The squad has a real resilience about it right now and despite making plenty of changes, I’m backing the boys to seal a 2-0 win.

Score prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Sporting Lisbon

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