Sporting Lisbon have never scored against Arsenal and Tottenham weakened them by signing key player in January ahead of Europa League last-16 clash, with former Gunner Hector Bellerin set for Emirates reunion
Sporting Lisbon have a bad history with Arsenal, while Tottenham may have inadvertently helped their rivals achieve success in Europe.
The Gunners saw their fate in the Europa League after drawing against Portugal side in the Round of 16 and will face them in two games in March.
Arsenal have never won the Europa League but came close in 2019 when they lost to Chelsea in the final before reaching the semi-finals in 2021.
Sporting is one of the more dangerous teams in this season’s competitions and has some quality players like Pedro Goncalves, Marcus Edwards and Manuel Ugarte.
But Mikel Arteta might not be too worried considering the Primeira Liga side have never scored against the Gunners in their history.
Admittedly, the two teams have only met four times before, but Arsenal have triumphed, most recently in 2018 when they drew Sporting in the group stage.
They topped their group before reaching the final after beating Sporting 1-0 at the Jose Alvalade Stadium thanks to a goal from Danny Welbeck before drawing 0-0 in the second leg.
The two last met in the 1969 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, where Arsenal drew 0-0 in Portugal before a 3-0 second-round win in London by Bertie Mee’s side achieve would win.
Another help for Arsenal next month is the fact that Tottenham have signed one of Sporting’s key players in Pedro Porro.
Antonio Conte was keen to sign the Spain international throughout the January transfer window and eventually got his man on deadline day.
However, the right-back is yet to adjust to the Premier League and was torn to pieces on his debut in a 4-1 mole against Leicester.
He has not reappeared since as Emerson Royal spotted a purple smudge in form while Sporting’s replacement is well known to the Arsenal fanbase.
Hector Bellerin moved to Lisbon to fill in Porro’s footsteps after Barcelona allowed him to go to the Nou camp just six months after his return.
Arteta terminated the Spaniard’s contract last summer, allowing him to join Barca 11 years after leaving them to join Arsenal’s academy.
But it was the return he would have expected after being largely sidelined and having only one start in LaLiga, but he has already made five appearances for Sporting.
Bellerin has made 239 appearances for Arsenal and is expected to be greeted by fans when the sides meet at Emirates Stadium in March.
However, the same cannot be said for labyrinthine winger Edwards, who previously played for Tottenham after progressing through his academy.
The 24-year-old has since moved to Portugal, where he played for Vitoria before joining Sporting in January 2022 and has scored ten goals and provided ten assists this season.