Sporting Lisbon and Arsenal’s Europa League last-16 match is evenly poised after the Gunners earned a 2-2 draw in the first leg on Thursday at the Stadium Jose Alvalade. For the best sports betting casino of March 2023, make sure you visit CasinoDaddy’s pages.
In the 22nd minute, William Saliba headed in a corner kick from Fábio Vieira to start the scoring. Twelve minutes later, Sporting equalized when Gonçalo Inácio flicked in a corner kick from Marcus Edwards.
After 10 minutes of play, Paulinho gave the home team the lead. Gabriel Martinelli then nearly scored a beautiful solo goal by moving from within his half and eluding Sporting goalkeeper Antonio Adan, but Jeremiah St. Juste made a last-ditch save. In the 62nd minute, Granit Xhaka’s pass was mishandled by Sporting CP’s Hidemasa Morita, who had the unfortunate mistake of deflecting it into his own goal.
The second leg will be played on Thursday, and Arsenal is seeking to go to the quarterfinals for the fourth time in the last six seasons.
Arsenal continues to press on two fronts despite Arteta’s alterations.
They needed a few pieces of luck, none more so than their second equalizer, which ricocheted off Morita after Xhaka attempted an ambitious pass in hope of scoring. Yet Arsenal will be sure to complete the task in front of their supporters the following week to advance to the quarterfinals.
Arsenal’s prospects of winning the Europa League would have been fair to believe in August, but now that they lead the Premier League by five points, lineup adjustments may have been necessary with Fulham scheduled to play in league action on Sunday.
The illness that struck Martin Odegaard and Kieran Tierney, as well as the absences of Leandro Trossard (groin) and Eddie Nketiah (ankle), led Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta to make six changes. Gabriel Jesus also chose not to travel despite the euphoria around his impending return from knee surgery.
Reiss Nelson into the lineup following his heroics against Bournemouth at the weekend, and Jakub Kiwior made his debut. Since so many important players, such as Gabriel, Thomas Partey, and Odegaard, were out from the start, there was naturally a slight loss of flow in Arsenal’s play. At 2-1 down, Paulinho also lost a wonderful opportunity to turn the match around.
Yet as things stand, the Gunners are the favorites to advance to the round of eight with a draw and home-field advantage.
2. Vieira’s performance was uneven, but it was a good foundation.
Only Bukayo Saka (nine) has given Arsenal more assists overall this season than Vieira’s six.
The move by Vieira was straightforward: a corner swung against Saliba’s head. The other teams he has provided assists for, Bodo/Glimt, Oxford United Wolves, and Aston Villa, may be indicative of the few chances he has had to make an impression thus far.
Vieira, who was making just his 12th start, was unable to control the game in the same way as Odegaard, the player he was essentially replacing. Only 67% of his passes—31 out of 39—were successful in the final third.
Although there is room for improvement, the 22-year-old is showing flashes of promise.
3. Set pieces could become a problem for Arsenal.
The two goals in the first half both included a close-range header from a corner, and it wasn’t the first time recently that Arsenal has been unprepared for set pieces.
They have now given up six goals from dead-ball situations, or seven if you include Bournemouth’s kickoff routine last weekend that resulted in a goal in nine seconds. As a result of Arsenal’s weakness on set plays, Manchester United, Everton, Brentford, Bournemouth, and now Sporting have also profited.
When Sporting CP forward Marcus Edwards took a corner in the 34th minute, several different players made mistakes. The Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner lacked control of his six-yard area, Jakub Kiwior dove under an Edwards delivery, and Gabriel Martinelli allowed Gonçalo Inácio to escape his attention far too easily.
The truth is that Arsenal hasn’t solved the issue, and it appears that other clubs are catching on.