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339500 / Arsenal / Blog / Football / Sporting / Sporting Lisbon

Sporting Lisbon v Arsenal talking points

Sporting Lisbon v Arsenal talking points

The winners will take control of Group E.

Arsenal travel to Portugal to face Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League on Thursday night.

Both sides have won their opening two Group E fixtures and the winners will take control of the group ahead of the return match at the Emirates Stadium next month.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the key talking points ahead of the match.

Ten and counting…

Unai Emery’s Gunners will kick-off inside the Estadio Jose Alvalade looking to extend a winning streak which has reached double figures. The 3-1 Premier League victory over Leicester on Monday night saw Arsenal make it 10 wins in a row. The last time they failed to win a game was on August 18 and the visitors will be keen to keep that winning feeling intact in the Portuguese capital.

Cech mate

Goalkeeper Petr Cech started the campaign as first-choice despite the summer signing of Germany international Bernd Leno. In the opening weeks Leno had to make do with Europa League and Carabao Cup football before Cech injured his hamstring in the win over Watford. Since then he has made some impressive saves and is clearly more comfortable playing out from the back – something Emery is keen to promote – so, with Cech fit again, it remains to be seen who will start between the posts.

A change is as good as a rest

Emery refused to criticise the Premier League for moving their meeting with Leicester to Monday evening for television purposes. The fixture alteration meant Arsenal had less than three days between facing the Foxes and kicking off in Lisbon. With a trip to face Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon to come, Emery is likely to make several changes to his team – even if this appears to be the most difficult of Arsenal’s group-stage matches.

Keep Holding on

After failing to feature in the first five Arsenal games of Emery’s tenure, defender Rob Holding has quickly developed into a key man. The 23-year-old has featured in the last seven games, starting six of them, and has looked impressive at times. His position in the side could now come under threat with Sokratis Papastathopoulos fit and captain Laurent Koscielny closing in on a return from a serious Achilles injury, but another strong showing at Sporting will do Holding’s chances of staying the team no harm.

A Sporting chance

Sporting endured a difficult summer as 11 players left the club following an attack on the training ground by disgruntled supporters. The fall-out of the likes of Rui Patricio and Bas Dost walking away from their contracts is still rumbling as manager Jose Peseiro looks to keep things on track. Like Arsenal, Sporting have lost just twice this season and brought former Manchester United winger Nani back to the club as one of several men signed to replace those who left after the disturbance.

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