Sporting CP v Arsenal

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The boys train ahead of Sporting clash

Mesut Ozil

The boys were hard at work in Lisbon on Wednesday as they prepare for Thursday night's Europa League clash against Sporting CP.

Our club photographer was there, and sent back these exclusive images.

Pre-Match Report

Sporting CP v Arsenal: The Brief

Smith Rowe and Iwobi

If anyone had any lingering doubts as to Unai Emery’s hunger to win another Europa League, they would quickly have been dispelled by listening to his press conference in Lisbon on Wednesday.

Our head coach mentioned no less than four times how important the competition is to him, the players and the club, and having lifted the trophy three times in a row during his time at Sevilla, he knows exactly what is required to do it.

Emery admitted that this game against Sporting CP will play a large part in deciding who tops the group, and the squad he has named speaks of how seriously he is taking it. No one has been left at home, this is a squad and a team that is expected to deliver in Lisbon.

Read on for a comprehensive match preview, Emery's thoughts on the game, the latest team news, stats, and analysis of the opposition.

The Breakdown - Sporting
Xhaka quote - Sporting
Team News - Sporting
Bruno Fernandes
AN Live - Sporting CP


Press conference

Will we play a back three in Lisbon?

Unai Emery has named a strong squad for Thursday evening's Europa League clash against Sporting CP - but what formation will he adopt.

The Spaniard has named a back four in all but one of his games in charge of us - when we beat Qarabag 3-0 in Baku last month - but could he do so again in Lisbon?

"Now we are finding the best combination, the best tactical idea so we can do our best performance and sometimes, some matches they are a very good moment to try different options," Emery said.

"[Against Sporting] is not the best for us because our composition with the players tomorrow I think we are going to continue tactically how usually we are doing but for the next matches it could be a possibility to do that.

"For us first this competition is very, very important and the opposition tomorrow is a very good team with a very good experience in this competition and with good players.

"Sporting changed players and also the coach this year but for us in this moment we are two teams both in the first position and our mind is to arrive first in this group and to continue in our way thinking how we can improve.

"This is a very, very big match and important for our confidence and to try to continue working tactically on the things  with the players with a lot of respect for them. We want to win against Sporting."

Team news

Team news: Monreal, Kolasinac, Sokratis, Cech

Nacho Monreal

Ahead of our Europa League clash with Sporting CP, here's the latest team news update from our medical team:

Nacho Monreal
Minor right hamstring. Being assessed ahead of Sporting CP (a) on Thursday, October 25.
Sead Kolasinac
Minor right hamstring. Being assessed ahead of Sporting CP (a) on Thursday, October 25.
Now returned to full training following right ankle bruising from international duty.
Petr Cech
Now returned to full training following left hamstring injury from Watford (h).
Ainsley Maitland-Niles
Now returned to full training following a small fracture to left fibula in August.
Laurent Koscielny
Right Achilles tendon repair. Currently being integrated back into full training.
Dinos Mavropanos
Groin injury. Expected to return to full training in November.

Press conference

'Goals are very important for the spectacle'

Only Manchester City have scored more goals than us in the Premier League this season - and Unai Emery has underlined his commitment to entertainment.

We have also had six different scorers in the Europa League, more than any other side, and our head coach is pleased with the way we are sharing around the responsibility.

"We want the balance," he said. "The balance to score a lot and not concede a lot of goals, but for me the individual goalscoring statistics for the players is very important, as it is for the supporters to be excited with many things on the pitch. 

"Scoring goals is important for this spectacle and with this balance we want to score a lot with different players.

"I want our strikers to have a lot of chances to score but also to find the balance defensively."

Emery won the Europa League three times in a row during his time with Sevilla, and he stressed the importance of the competition in terms of our list of priorities.

"I developed a lot individually in this competition," he said. "In my career also I look at a lot of teams how they do the commitment, how they can find this other performance in this competition.

"I think this competition for every team is very important because first it is a title to play for and for other teams when you win this competition you go to the Champions League.

"For us at Arsenal I am telling every player, the supporters and the club for me it is very important also because it is one title a way to go to the Champions League next year.

"We are here to play to win, to find all the titles that are in the way and this is one with a very high, high level in every team like Sporting CP and in this competition every year there are a lot of teams with the same idea to find here one title and I think the level now is very, very high in this competition."