Arsenal news: Mikel Arteta makes five changes
Gabriel Jesus returns to the starting eleven while Gabriel Martinelli remains by his side.
Arsenal XI: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Nelson, Jorginho, Xhaka, Vieira, Jesus, Martinelli.
Substitutes: Turner, Hillson, Tierney, White, Partey, Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Kiwior, Holding, Trossard.
Jesus leaves for Arsenal
Gabriel Jesus starts for Arsenal, which will be his first start for the club since November.
The striker will play alongside Gabriel Martinelli while captain Martin Odegaard takes over the bench.
Full team news to follow.
Preview: Hit or twist with Turner?
Welcome to live coverage of Arsenal’s Europa League round of 16 second leg against Sporting, who are intriguingly balanced after last week’s 2-2 draw at José Alvalade. Arsenal, who have reached three semi-finals in the past four years, insist they do not see him as an inconvenient distraction from their title quest and see it more as a welcome distraction.
For Mikel Arteta, tonight is also an occasion to savor after so many years of sterile European competition hit by confinement. “We haven’t had big European nights in three years. Especially due to Covid,” he said. “[This] is the first for a while. Hopefully we will build a great atmosphere and enjoy our fans against a really good team that will give us a great challenge.”
The head coach’s main dilemma after a run of performance is whether to stick with backup goaltender Matt Turner, who has been wildly shaky in White City, or call up Adam Ramsdale and pray he remains as strong as he has been. since signing him because the biggest threat to Arsenal’s title hopes may be an injury to their goalkeeper instead of Manchester City. Any of Jorginho, Gabriel Jesus, Emile Smith Rowe, Fabio Vieira, Kieran Tierney and Reiss Nelson could go into the starting XI that hammered Fulham on Sunday.
However, Eddie Nketiah, who was injured during their devious loss to Everton, still has a ways to go. “He’s getting better,” Arteta said. “He’s still in the trunk. He still has a few weeks to go and we have to be patient. It was a nasty injury and he’s got a big challenge ahead of him. Thank God he’s not as bad as he could have been.”
It is a matter of minutes if Sporting, unbeaten in seven in all competitions after a disappointing start to their La Liga season, will be able to give Hector Bellerin a homecoming start at right-back as the clothesline has a problem in the knee while booking in Lisbon for Hidemasa. Morita and Sebastián Coates earned them suspensions. Manuel Ugarte, suspended in the first leg, is back and goalkeeper Antonio Adán should return injured. Rob Bagchi