Arsenal have been excellent in the Europa League so far, but Kevin Hatchard doesn't think they'll have things all their own way against Sporting...
"Arsenal haven't been keeping clean sheets consistently, and Sporting have scored in 13 of their 15 games this season."
Arsenal v Sporting
Thursday 08 November, 20:00
Live on BT Sport
Relentless Gunners making rapid progress
Having matched one of England's best teams stride for stride, Arsenal are feeling pretty good about themselves at the moment. Saturday's 1-1 draw with Liverpool shows how far the Gunners squad has come under new boss Unai Emery in a short space of time. Arsenal are through to the quarter-finals of the League Cup, they have a 100% record in the Europa League, and they are just a point off the top four in the Premier League.
Arsenal did well to quieten the crowd in Lisbon on Matchday Three, drawing the sting out of the hosts with a dominant display. It was no real surprise when Danny Welbeck came up with a late winner, but that victory shouldn't be underestimated, as Sporting had won all of their home games in all competitions up until that point.
Arsenal are now unbeaten in 14 games in all competitions, and they have won 12 of those matches. One slight concern is the team's defending - the north London giants have kept just one clean sheet in their last six games.
Ailing Sporting in need of a boost
I was in Lisbon on the day Sporting decided to fire coach Jose Peseiro, and while from the outside it may have seemed like a harsh dismissal, the feeling in the city was that the former Porto and Braga boss just wasn't the right fit. A tame home defeat to second-tier Estoril in the Taca da Liga sealed the much-travelled coach's fate, and Tiago Fernandes was given the job on an interim basis.
In terms of results, Sporting have done pretty well given that they lost keeper Rui Patricio, winger Gelson Martins and midfielder William Carvalho in the summer. They won their first game under Fernandes, securing a 2-1 victory at Santa Clara that leaves them just two points off top spot in the Primeira Liga, and they should qualify for the last 32 of this competition given that neither Vorskla nor Qarabag are strong opposition.
However, it is the performances that have disappointed fans. At the Estadio Jose Alvalade against Arsenal, Sporting were too timid, allowing the Gunners to dominate possession at keep the hosts at arm's length. If Sporting are to get anything out of their trip to the Emirates, they must be more aggressive and take more risks.
Experienced Dutch striker Bas Dost is back after injury, but Stefano Sturaro and Raphinha are still sidelined.
Arsenal worthy favourites, but a touch too short
Arsenal have been on stunning form in the last couple of months, but they are facing a good side with plenty of European experience, a team that is capable of causing that Gunners defence a few problems.
Emery's side may well win, but at [1.33] they aren't attractively priced.
Sporting can strike a blow, even in defeat
Given the potency of the Arsenal attack (when Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are battling for a starting spot, you're in a good position) I'm not surprised to see Over 2.5 Goals trading as short as [1.68]. That bet has landed in five of Arsenal's last six games.
However, I'm very surprised to see Yes in the Both Teams To Score market available at [2.06]. Arsenal haven't been consistently keeping clean sheets, and although Sporting drew a blank against them on Matchday Three, they have scored in 13 of their 15 matches this season.
I'll back both teams to find the net here.
If you want to use the Same Game Multi feature to build your own acca on the Sportsbook, you could back Arsenal to win, both teams to score and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score at combined odds of 4.03.
Kevin Hatchard 2018-19 Europa League Group Stage P/L
Points Staked: 19
Points Returned: 23.08
P/L: +4.08 points