Arsenal secured a draw in the first Leg of their round of 16 match against Sporting Lisbon at the Estadio Jose Alvalade on Thursday 9th
March. As group winners Arsenal had not been active in the round of 32. Arsenal took the lead from a William Saliba header from close range in the 22nd
minute. Likewise Sporting Lisbon equalized in the 34th
minute after Gonçalo headed from close range following a cross from Marcus Edwards.
Sporting Lisbon did not waste time in second half and took the lead 10 minutes after the restart. The goal came via a close range shot into the bottom right corner from Paulinho. The gunners fought back and equalized from an unfortunate own goal from Hidemasa Morita in the 62nd
minute. The game played out to a 2-2 result.
Match Stats and Tactics
The Gunners had the greater share of possession having 68% while Sporting Lisbon had 32%. Lisbon played more of defensive formation sitting deep opting to play from the back. Arsenal pressed Sporting Lisbon from the goalie, marking man for man all over the pitch . However, sporting bypassed the press due to good interplay between goalkeeper and defense.
Long balls from the central defenders into the channels also provided an outlet from the arsenal press. At times players like Jorginho were caught out by this strategy as they lack the pace to close Sporting forwards. The Portuguese team defended in a 5-2-3 formation. Arsenal played through this with some slick direct football.
Poor passing from Arsenal’s goalie and Zinchenko gave away the ball and put pressure on Arsenal. Zinchenko did not have his best game and in the second half became a target for Sporting Lisbon’s attacks.
Shots on Target
The green and whites had 10 shots on target compared to Arsenals 14. Arsenal had 7 shots on target from their 14 shots (50% accuracy) while The green and whites had 6 on target from 10 shots (accuracy of 60%).
Paulinho, Gonçalves, Morita, and Gonçalo all had 2 shots during the game with goals coming from Paulinho and Gonçalves. Arteta played Vieira in a false 9 role. The false 9 made 2 shots on goal with 1 on target. Martineli made the most attempts on goal with 3 shots with only 1 shot on target.
Antonio Adan was the busier of the two keepers facing 8 shots compared to 6 faced by Matt Turner. Out of 8 shots Adan made 6 saves (75% save percentage) while Matt Turner made 4 saves (66.7 save percentage).
Fouls and cards
Sporting Lisbon committed the most fouls with 9 committed while on the other hand Arsenal committed 6 fouls. Paulinho committed 2 fouls with other players in the Sporting team making 1 foul. Paulinho and Adan drew 2 fouls each from Arsenal while Fabio Viera was fouled the most by Sporting Lisbon defense.
Both teams got 2 yellow cards each. Sebastian Coates and Hidemasa Morita got yellow cards for Sporting Cards. On the other hand, Martinelli and Zinchenko received cards for fouls committed. No red cards were received both sides.
Mikel Arteta (Arsenal Manager)
was very critical of his team’s performance in the first leg. He was very disappointed at the two goals conceded by his team and the balls which his team gave away during the game. Arteta noted that in some moments his team had control of the game, but the dominance was not sustained.
The Arsenal manager was quick to defend his team by highlighting the resilience his team showed in coming from behind. Despite 4 players missing in the front line due to injuries, Arsenal still put in a resilient performance.
Ruben Amorim (Sporting Lisbon boss)
was pleased with the result at home given the profile of Arsenal FC. Amorim went on to say his team could have won the game due to the quality they had in possession of the ball and the chances they created.