Result: Sporting Lisbon 2-2 Arsenal
Competition: Europa League
Date: 9 March 2023
Venue: Estadio Jose Alvalade
Arsenal: Turner, White, Saliba, Kiwior, Zinchenko, Jorginho, Xhaka, Vieira, Nelson, Saka, Martinelli
Subs: Ramsdale, Hillson, Partey, Gabriel, Smith Rowe, Holding, Tomiyasu, Bandeira, Sagoe Jr, Smith, Walters
Arsenal and Sporting Lisbon played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Estadio Jose Alvalade that leaves their Europa League last-16 tie on a knife edge heading into next week’s second leg at the Emirates.
The two sides traded headed goals from corners in the first half, William Saliba and Goncalo Ignacio on the scoresheet before Paulinho pounced in the box to give the home side the lead. The Gunners’ equaliser came in fortuitous style as Hidemasa Morita deflected a Granit Xhaka pass into his own net.
Due to a spate of absentees, Mikel Arteta had something of a headache cobbling together a competitive squad for a tricky away fixture in the midst of a busy run of games.
Leandro Trossard and Eddie Nketiah were ruled out with groin and ankle injuries respectively, Kieran Tierney and Martin Odegaard were ill and Gabriel Jesus, despite optimism he might be able to travel, was not risked. Coupled with an eagerness to give minutes to squad players, there was a real mix-and-match feel.
Most notably, Matt Turner returned in goal, Jakub Kiwior was handed his debut and Saturday’s hero Reiss Nelson started on the left side of the attack with Gabriel Martinelli up top. The Gunners named only 11 of the 12 subs available to them, five of them kids from the academy.
Against the backdrop of a half-empty Estadio Jose Alvalade, the Gunners produced a very bitty opening 45 minutes. For long periods with controlled the ball but lapses in concentration, particularly at the back, encouraged the home side to come out of their shell.
There were early signs that we were in for a tricky evening when Pedro Goncalves latched onto a long ball that deceived Jorginho before cutting into the box and curling wide. It was a bad miss given the space he’d worked for himself. Right-back St.Juste, dovetailing with Edwards, also caused problems down Zinchenko’s flank and a ball into the box by the former required Saliba to be alert.
It was a scrappy encounter with lots of free-kicks but we gradually grew into the game with Jorginho and Vieira pulling the strings. On 22 minutes, the latter won a corner with a burst down the right and once he’d dusted himself down, curled in a peach of a ball for Saliba to head home with power. (GOAL 1-0)
As the Frenchman wheeled away in celebration, there were afters between Zinchenko and a host of Sporting players, led by Coates, who complained the Ukrainian had been holding St. Juste. VAR might justifiably have taken a look at the incident but didn’t. Zinny and Coates ended up in the book.
Vieira, Coates and Zinchenko were again at the centre of things moments after the restart. The Portuguese midfielder was fouled by the Uruguayan outside the box and our left-back took responsibility for the free-kick; first firing into the wall before following up with a fierce effort that Adan had to parry over.
At the other end, Turner looked nervy trying to play out from the back and Sporting started to press higher up the field. It felt like a goal was coming and, sure enough, after Ignacio had forced a corner with a daisycutter from 25 yards, they scored from the resulting corner. Unmarked in the six-yard box, Ignacio climbed high with a fine impression of Saliba (GOAL 1-1).
Edwards was the next to try his luck. Cutting onto his left foot he pinged a low drive at Turner’s near post that the American did well to claw away. This time Arsenal dealt with the set piece.
Xhaka was the next to come close. At the back post, he headed down a Nelson corner (spot the theme) that nearly crept inside Adan’s post. Goalline technology showed only half the ball had crossed the line. Martinelli then ended up in the book for stopping the keeper from starting a quick break. Except it wasn’t him who was the offender. He continued to moan to the official all the way through to the break.
Arsenal came out with the bit between their teeth. Martinelli came desperately close to restoring the lead after a beautiful no-look pass by Zinchenko. Adan foiled his dinked effort. Seconds later, Vieira fired just past the post from the edge of the area. Zinchenko turned provider for Martinelli again, this time whipping in a cross that the Brazilian headed over.
Sporting hit back and not for the first time Saliba came to the rescue with a last-gasp clearance. Unfortunately, the reprieve was only temporary, Edwards squeezed a pass into the box, Turner was forced to make a save and Paulinho tapped home the rebound. On the touchline, Arteta and Albert Stuivenburg looked distinctly unimpressed. (GOAL 2-1)
Attack seemed the best form of defence for the Gunners. Sensing the home side’s tails were up, Martinelli embarked on an unbelievable solo run from the halfway line but couldn’t find a finish after rounding the keeper.
The end-to-end action continued in a breathless fashion. Paulinho went through on goal but couldn’t keep his finish down with the goal gaping. Then, out of nothing, we found an equaliser. Xhaka was looking for a pass only for his attempt to take a wicked deflection off Japan international Morita that saw the ball dribble past the wrong-footed Adan (GOAL 2-2)
Adan then denied Vieira with a header before Arteta switched things up. First Tomiyasu replaced Zinchenko before a triple substitution saw Kiwior, Jorginho and Nelson replaced by Gabriel, Thomas Partey and Emile Smith Rowe.
Sporting also switched things up and the changes seemed to take the sting out of the game. That was no bad thing for Arsenal heading into the final 10 minutes. We didn’t need to force the issue and seemed happy keeping the ball rather than pushing forward.
Saka did have a couple of efforts in the closing stages but neither unduly troubled Adan who had a solid night between the sticks. There was a corner in the depths of stoppage time that gave us a chance to win it but unlike on Saturday there was to be no late drama.
Proud of the boys tonight.
One player not even played for us before, our keeper not played since Jan, 6 changes and still pretty much in control.
Shame we didn’t nick it but a good game. I think we’ll finish it off next Thursday.
Yeah, I just think we got a little complacent at 1-0. A little too cute passing the ball in defence and once they equalised, the crowd began to get involved and suddenly we were up against it.
I would’ve liked to see us really frustrate Sporting and slow things down at 1-0 but we gave them reasons for optimism.
A perfectly fine draw. But I think we could’ve handled the occasion a little better.
Agreed. Good learning curve for the team though.
Two away goals.
Happy with that.
Prem is the focus.
Are away goals still a thing?
No away goals don’t count double anymore.
Yeah, you can still score away. We did twice.
To the extent that it is far easier to score at home with a friendly crowd, yes!
A bit sloppy but good enough. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a player as fired up as Zinky. He was “on one” as the kids say.
To his detriment. He gets too emotional sometimes.
Am I the only one worried about Turner as our reserve goalkeeper?
Surely should have come out and punched or claimed on first goal. Kicking / passing inconsistent Second goal, perhaps very harsh but could he have pushed away rather than straight out?
Just does not totally convince me
I think he is just a bit rusty, that’s all. He was doing quite well when he was playing regularly in the group stage and the Carabao cup.
Fair enough. Not 100 per cent convinced but must be hardest position to come in
and play occasional game
Not sure if it’s the hardest. Isn’t every position like that? Unless you’re Reiss Nelson that is.
Exactly and he was shocking today…No assist and No last minute top bins strike. -___-. But yeah i think Turner was just a little rusty.
Agreed with this,.Alot of ppl turning on Turner today but i think hes been very very good in all the other games he has played.
A good result, all things considered, no injuries and a run out for some of the second string.
Let’s finish them off next week – especially those two former Tottenham melts and that cheating dickhead of a goalkeeper they’ve got.
Just out of interest, does the away goals rule apply in this competition? I’ve forgotten – shows you how much of a shit I generally give about it!
The main thing for me tonight was always going to be that we didn’t sustain any further injuries.
Well done boys.
No goal away rule. We need to win on the return leg
Yeah, thought as much. Just needed some confirmation. Cheers. 👍
I think away goals were ditched in both UCL and UEL
That doesn’t surprise me in the least – yet another change for the sake of change. Fixing shit that ain’t broken. As far as I’m concerned – and I’m sure many old school boys and girls feel the same way – the ‘Champions League’ is still the old European Cup and the Europa League is still the old EUFA Cup. Same trophy for a start. UEFA should bring back the European Cup Winners Cup as well – it would give back some much needed respect to the FA Cup (and respective European domestic cups) and give smaller clubs another route… Read more »
* UEFA Cup.
What a run by Martinelli. Wish he had had a shot instead of tryouts by to go around the keeper. Decent result overall.
* trying to go around the keeper*
I wish he avoided the last tackle and scored bh running into the net
Priceless minutes for lots of players…
Hope Saka and White are ok, they looked fucked afterwards ❤️
Really surprised that Saka played the full 90+
Saliba is a beast. He gives maximum effort and intensity in every play. Saka needs a rest.
No rest ’til
You gotta fight for your right to Partey
No Sleep ’til Brooklyn, i think ….
Playing a whole match in the second gear and leaving with a 2 – 2 draw against a team on overdrive should be a positive, I guess.
My worry now is how Saka, Martinelli and White recover on time for Fulham on Sunday. The lads looked knackered, especially White.
Wanted a Martinelli goal for his confidence going into Sunday but it wasn’t to be. One chance in particular he tried a deft chip but he should’ve squared it to Vieira for an easy tap in. Football gods were still in our favor and we got the lucky break. Time to wrap Saka’s feet in bubble wrap until Sunday. COYG.
No injuries, right? I’m cool with the point.
Yeah with the absence of away goals rule a first leg draw is basically just an expensive training match. There’s no concept of dropped points.
Arsenal looked more than a bit disjointed at times. I think Jorginho has been fine when he replaces Partey but the rest of starting eleven has remained intact. And Kiwior might be an adequate replacement for Gabriel when the rust disappears and he is used to his teammates. The same for Turner. But all three, and without Odegaard too, made for too many hesitations and misunderstandings.
Hopefully the minutes will do the more fringe players some good, same with the return leg next week.
A fairly good result, but some of our guys look right out exhausted, White in particular looked like a up-hill marathon runner at the end of the game. Two things worries me, one is our sudden vulnerability on set pieces, the second that we need a to many chances to produce goals. we can’t ride our luck with late time goals and own goals in length. We do have excellent wide players in Gsabi and Saka, but miss desperatlely a world class striker. With a Rashford/Kane type striker this one would be an easy victory. Pray to higher powers that… Read more »
Let me ask please…is rashford a striker ? Cos I believe if u play him central he will be useless and reason why eth don’t play him central…so where will he fit in our team considering we have martinelli,nelson, Phillip all just ling for same spot rashford plays also a wide player lol..my point let’s support the Boyz we have right now n bring sporting to roost at d Emirates next week…. u can’t have it all..
Mostly fine. The performance tonight can only be judged from the context of what we get at Fulham this weekend. If its three points then great; we can knock down Sporting at the Emirates next week.