Sporting CP vs Arsenal facts
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Previous meetings, form guides, links and trivia ahead of the first leg of the UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg.
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Four seasons after meeting in the UEFA Europa League group stage, Sporting CP and Arsenal go head to head again in the competition's round of 16, the first leg taking place at the Estádio José Alvalade in Lisbon.
Sporting kicked off their 2022/23 European campaign in the UEFA Champions League and made a strong start in Group D before falling away after two matches and only just snatching the consolation of third place in the final minute of Matchday 6. They then overcame Midtjylland in the UEFA Europa League knockout play-offs, equalising late in the first leg to draw 1-1 at home before a 4-0 win against their ten-man hosts in Denmark, Pedro Gonçalves scoring twice after captain Sebastián Coates had opened the scoring with his second goal of the tie.
Arsenal gained direct access to the round of 16 with a first-place finish in UEFA Europa League Group A, winning five of their matches to pip PSV Eindhoven to top spot by two points. It was the fifth time the Gunners had won their UEFA Europa League section, equalling Salzburg's competition record.
The clubs had never met in UEFA competition before being drawn together in the 2018/19 UEFA Europa League group stage, where Arsenal were 1-0 winners on Matchday 3 in Lisbon with a late Danny Welbeck goal before the sides drew the return 0-0 in London a fortnight later. The Gunners would go on to top the group – and later reach the final – while Sporting finished second having, like Arsenal, done the double over both Qarabağ and Vorskla Poltava.
The clubs did also meet in the non-UEFA 1969/70 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup second round, Arsenal winning 3-0 on aggregate (0-0 a, 3-0 h) en route to lifting the trophy.
Sporting's 27 UEFA fixtures against English clubs have yielded ten wins and 11 defeats, eight of the victories coming at home including a 2-0 success against Tottenham on Matchday 2 of this season's UEFA Champions League. They suffered their joint heaviest European home defeat in the first leg of last season's UEFA Champions League round of 16, 0-5 against Manchester City, which, with a goalless draw in the return, led to their first aggregate defeat in nine two-legged UEFA ties against English opposition. Seven of the eight previous successes had been achieved with a home win.
Arsenal's win at Sporting in 2018 is their only one in seven visits to Portugal (D3 L3), the most recent encounter a 1-1 draw against Vitória SC in the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League group stage. They have never scored more than once on any of their visits to the country, managing just four goals in total.
The Gunners have won the last two of their three two-legged UEFA ties against Portuguese clubs, the most recent a 4-3 aggregate success against Benfica in the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League round of 32, when, with both legs played at neutral venues, they followed a 1-1 draw in Rome with a 3-2 win in Piraeus.
Champions of Portugal in 2020/21 – their first league title in 19 years – Sporting finished second to Porto last season while retaining the Portuguese League Cup. Led by title-winning boss Rúben Amorim, the Lions also reached the UEFA Champions League knockout phase for the first time in 13 years before going out to Manchester City (0-5 h, 0-0 a).
Sporting made it back-to-back UEFA Champions League group campaigns for only the fourth time this season and looked set to repeat their 2021/22 feat when they won their first two games – 3-0 at Eintracht Frankfurt and 2-0 at home to Spurs – but successive defeats by Marseille (1-4 a, 0-2 h) put a brake on their progress. Although all options were open going into Matchday 6, they lost 1-2 at home to Frankfurt and only edged Marseille into third spot, thus prolonging their European season, thanks to a last-gasp winner from Tottenham at the Stade Vélodrome.
Having seen off Midtjylland, Sporting are participating in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for the fourth time. They have won two of their three previous ties at this juncture, all of them closely contested. After losing to Atlético de Madrid on away goals in the inaugural 2009/10 competition (0-0 a, 2-2 h), they overcame Manchester City, also on away goals, in 2011/12 (1-0 h, 2-3 a) and Viktoria Plzeň after extra time in 2017/18 (2-0 h, 1-2 a). Their best run in the competition was to the semi-finals in 2011/12, and they were also UEFA Cup runners-up in 2005, losing the final 3-1 to CSKA Moskva in their home stadium.
Sporting have lost five of their last nine European home games (W3 D1), conceding 18 goals in those defeats. Their record at the Estádio José Alvalade in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase is W8 D5 L2; despite that strong home form they have won just seven of their 15 ties.
Absent from Europe in 2021/22 for the first time in 26 years, Arsenal are participating in their fifth UEFA Europa League campaign in six seasons, Mikel Arteta's side having qualified by finishing fifth in last term's Premier League, 24 points behind champions Manchester City.
The Gunners' fifth involvement in the UEFA Europa League group stage this season produced the same result as the previous four as they finished top of their section, doing the double over both FC Zürich (2-1 a, 1-0 h) and Bodø/Glimt (3-0 h, 1-0 a) and trading home wins with PSV (1-0 h, 0-2 a). They finished runners-up to London rivals Chelsea in the 2018/19 final and reached the last four in both 2017/18 and last time out in 2020/21, when, having won all six games in the group stage, they were ultimately knocked out by eventual winners Villarreal (1-2 a, 0-0 h). Arsenal's only UEFA trophy success was the 1993/94 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.
Having lost seven successive round of 16 ties in the UEFA Champions League from 2010/11 to 2016/17, the Gunners have subsequently won all three at the same stage of the UEFA Europa League, eliminating AC Milan in 2017/18 (2-0 a, 3-1 h), Rennes in 2018/19 (1-3 a, 3-0 h) and Olympiacos in 2020/21 (3-1 a, 0-1 h).
Arsenal's record in UEFA Europa League knockout phase away fixtures is W7 D2 L4. The defeat at Villarreal in the opening leg of the 2020/21 semi-final was their first away loss in the competition overall in 13 matches, since when they have also been beaten in Eindhoven, making it two defeats in 16 (W11 D3).
UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Héctor Bellerín (Barcelona), Ousmane Diomande (Midtjylland), Mateo Tanlongo (Rosario Central)
Out: Jesús Alcántar (Necaxa, end loan), José Marsà (Sporting Gijón, loan), Pedro Porro (Tottenham, loan)
In: Jorginho (Chelsea), Jakub Kiwior (Spezia), Leandro Trossard (Brighton)
Out: Cédric Soares (Fulham, loan), Marquinhos (Norwich, loan), Albert Sambi Lokonga (Crystal Palace, loan)
Links and trivia
Sent on loan to Sporting by Barcelona in January, Héctor Bellerín joined Arsenal from the Blaugrana at 16 in July 2011. He made 239 first-team appearances and scored nine goals for the Gunners, winning the FA Cup three times, before returning to Barça last summer after a 2021/22 season on loan at Real Betis. He also had a brief loan spell at Watford in 2013/14.
North London-born Marcus Edwards joined Arsenal's arch-rivals Tottenham in 2006 aged eight, signing his first professional contract ten years later. He made only one first-team appearance, however, and left Spurs for Portuguese side Vitória SC three years later. The former England youth international also had a loan spell at Norwich in 2018.
Edwards scored Sporting's goal in a 1-1 draw at Tottenham in this season's UEFA Champions League group stage.
Other Sporting players who have played in England are Coates (Liverpool 2011–13, Sunderland 2014–16), Pedro Gonçalves (Wolves 2017–19), Francisco Trincão (Wolves 2021/22 loan) and Rochinha (Bolton 2015 loan)
Brazilian Arthur Gomes came off the bench on his Sporting and European debut to score the second goal in a 2-0 home win against Spurs on Matchday 2 of this season's UEFA Champions League. He was assisted by Paulinho, who had scored Sporting's opener.
Paulinho also scored one of Braga's goals in a 3-3 home draw against Wolves in the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League group stage.
Fábio Vieira made 76 appearances for Porto, registering ten goals and 18 assists over three seasons (2019/20–2021/22) before joining Arsenal last summer. During that period he featured seven times against Sporting with the record W3 D3 L1, scoring past Antonio Adán and setting up another goal in a 2-2 home Liga draw in February 2022.
Sporting's Hidemasa Morita and Arsenal's Takehiro Tomiyasu are Japan team-mates, as are Fatawu Issahaku (Sporting) and Thomas Partey (Arsenal) for Ghana. All four players were in their respective nations' 2022 FIFA World Cup squad.
Arsenal maintained their five-point lead at the top of the Premier League in spectacular fashion at the weekend, coming from two goals down to defeat Bournemouth 3-2 at home with a 97th-minute winner from substitute Reiss Nelson. It was the Gunners' fourth successive win in the competition and 20th in 26 matches over the whole Premier League season.