Europa League Goals Reload - Episode 10Mar 18
Three reasons to watch Arsenal vs Sporting in the Europa League - live on BT Sport!
After a 2-2 draw in Lisbon, Arsenal take on Sporting at the Emirates aiming to reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
Arsenal host Sporting in the second leg of their Europa League last 16 tie on Thursday night hoping for a more convincing performance than in Lisbon.
The Gunners could only draw 2-2 with a rotated starting XI at Estádio Jose Alvalade, with William Saliba scoring the opener before an own goal from Hidemasa Morita levelled things up after Sporting had gone 2-1 ahead.
That leaves the tie very much in the balance as the players head to the Emirates. Here are three reasons to watch the second leg live on BT Sport.
Arsenal back to their free-flowing best
After a near miss against Bournemouth, a game in which Arsenal needed an injury-time goal to win 3-2, and last week’s below par display against Sporting, Mikel Arteta might have been slightly concerned.
But he need not have worried. The Gunners put on a superb display of fluid attacking football to ease past Fulham at the weekend, looking far more secure at the back and reassuring fans that the hunt for silverware on all fronts is well and truly on.
There will, of course, be some changes to the team again given the busy schedule and the demands of playing Saturday and Thursday.
Arsenal host Crystal Palace on Sunday and half an eye will be on that game; the priority is the Premier League title race with just 11 games left and a five-point lead still intact.
But Arteta’s side will still be amongst the favourites to win the Europa League, even if the star names aren’t all involved.
Confidence should be flowing more than ever now after yet another convincing win against a London rival.
And with the likes of Jorginho, Fabio Vieira, Kieran Tierney, Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith Rowe all on the bench at Fulham, Arsenal’s squad depth is impressive.
Jesus makes long-awaited return
It’s not quite Easter yet, but Jesus is back and Arsenal fans will rejoice.
The Brazilian made a cameo appearance at Craven Cottage, reintroduced from the bench and very nearly scoring. Bernd Leno denied him the perfect return, but it bodes well for the Premier League leaders.
Given the length of his absence, Arteta will presumably look to ease Gabriel Jesus back into action to avoid the risk of another injury.
That could mean a start against Sporting on Thursday night, or at the very least another 30 minutes or so as a substitute.
And that prospect alone will probably be worth the entrance fee for Arsenal fans. Eddie Nketiah has deputised well and often looked more of a goal threat, while Gabriel Martinelli continues to excel and score regularly.
But Jesus provides flair and creativity in the final third that takes Arsenal to another level.
All eyes on Turner after shaky first leg
Matt Turner has been backed by Arteta in the Europa League, allowing number one Aaron Ramsdale a break from action.
But the USA international wasn’t entirely convincing in Lisbon, at fault for the first goal after hesitating to come off his line from a corner and allowing Goncalo Inacio to head home.
The backup goalkeeper understandably doesn’t have the same understanding with his defenders as Ramsdale, but a more convincing display will be needed in the second leg if he is to earn the trust of his manager and the fans at the Emirates.
It’s a difficult situation for Turner, whose opportunities have been limited since he joined Arsenal from New England Revolution.
At 28, he will have aspirations of becoming the club’s first-choice keeper, but to do so he will need to really catch the eye and avoid even the slightest of mistakes, such is Ramsdale’s consistency in the Premier League.
The spotlight will be on Turner on Thursday night, then, in a game that will be a real test of his ability under pressure.