Arsenal’s European journey restarts on Thursday evening as they take on Sporting CP in the first leg of their Europa League round of 16 tie.
The Gunners are among the favourites to win this competition, but their Premier League title bid means the club’s continental venture is not the most pressing priority.
Still, this is a tie many fancy Arsenal to win. However, Sporting will be no pushovers. While they’ve endured a pretty disappointing campaign thus far, they head into Thursday’s game with a bit of momentum.
Ruben Amorim is a fine coach and he’s got a talented group at his disposal. While there’s an absence of world-class talent, Sporting are blessed with several stars that could hurt the Gunners over the two legs.
3 Sporting CP players Arsenal must be wary of on Thursday evening
Here are three Sporting players Arsenal must be wary of when they visit Lisbon on Thursday evening.
1. Gonçalo Inácio
Inãcio is perhaps not a player that will hurt the Gunners as such given his position, but he’s a talent capable of thwarting the visitors.
The 21-year-old is considered to be one of Europe’s most exciting centre-back talents after graduating from Sporting’s famed academy and slotting seamlessly into Amorim’s set-up. He’s your archetypal modern-day defender; one that excels with the ball at his feet but also boasts the defensive instincts of a seasoned veteran.
His technique, mobility, and versatility allow him to play across Sporting’s back three, but, given his left-footed preference, he’s at his best when deployed as Amorim’s left-sided centre-back.
Inãcio will play a key role in shunning the Gunners on Thursday, and the visitors must be wary of his passing range. He’s capable of kick-starting rapid transitions via raking driven passes and long balls in behind.
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