MX23RW : Monday, November 19 08:06:11

Sporting Lisbon v Arsenal talking points

The winners will take control of Group E.

Arsenal travel to Portugal to face Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League on Thursday night.

Both sides have won their opening two Group E fixtures and the winners will take control of the group ahead of the return match at the Emirates Stadium next month.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the key talking points ahead of the match.

Ten and counting…

Unai Emery’s Gunners will kick-off inside the Estadio Jose Alvalade looking to extend a winning streak which has reached double figures. The 3-1 Premier League victory over Leicester on Monday night saw Arsenal make it 10 wins in a row. The last time they failed to win a game was on August 18 and the visitors will be keen to keep that winning feeling intact in the Portuguese capital.

Cech mate

Goalkeeper Petr Cech started the campaign as first choice despite the summer signing of Germany international Bernd Leno. However, the 36-year-old, who had been expected to travel to Portugal, remains on the sidelines after injuring his hamstring in the win over Watford last month, which has worked to Leno’s advantage. The new arrival had to make do with Europa League and Carabao Cup football but has worked his way back into the Germany national team fold after a series of impressive displays since replacing Cech. Leno is also more comfortable playing out from the back – something Emery is keen to promote – and played a key role in the build-up to the final goal in Monday’s 3-1 home win over Leicester as the former Bayer Leverkusen man looks to nail down the number one spot with another assured performance.

A change is as good as a rest

Emery refused to criticise the Premier League for moving their meeting with Leicester to Monday evening for television purposes. The fixture alteration meant Arsenal had less than three days between facing the Foxes and kicking off in Lisbon. With a trip to face Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon to come, Emery is likely to make several changes to his team – even if this appears to be the most difficult of Arsenal’s group-stage matches.

Keep Holding on

After failing to feature in the first five Arsenal games of Emery’s tenure, defender Rob Holding has quickly developed into a key man. The 23-year-old has featured in the last seven games, starting six of them, and has looked impressive at times. His position in the side could now come under threat with Sokratis Papastathopoulos fit and captain Laurent Koscielny closing in on a return from a serious Achilles injury, but another strong showing at Sporting will do Holding’s chances of staying the team no harm.

A Sporting chance

Sporting endured a difficult summer as 11 players left the club following an attack on the training ground by disgruntled supporters. The fall-out of the likes of Rui Patricio and Bas Dost walking away from their contracts is still rumbling as manager Jose Peseiro looks to keep things on track. Like Arsenal, Sporting have lost just twice this season and brought former Manchester United winger Nani back to the club as one of several men signed to replace those who left after the disturbance.

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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City1210203653132
2Liverpool129302351830
3Chelsea128402781928
4Tottenham HotspurSpurs1290320101027
5Arsenal1273226151124
6Bournemouth126242116520
7Watford126241714320
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd126242021-120
9Everton125431915419
10Leicester CityLeicester125251716117
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves124441213-116
12Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton124261318-514
13West Ham UnitedWest Ham123361418-412
14Newcastle UnitedNewcastle12237915-69
15Burnley122371225-139
16Crystal Palace12228817-98
17Southampton12156821-138
18Cardiff CityCardiff122281125-148
19Huddersfield TownHuddersfield12147622-167
20Fulham121291131-205

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