Arsenal coach Mickel Arteta. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Arsenal could be without striker Leandro Trossard when they face Sporting Lisbon in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 clash. The striker picked up a groin injury against Bournemouth last weekend and may not be risked for the clash at Estadio Jose Alvalade XXI on Thursday night.

Sporting’s efforts to secure a top-two spot during the Champions League group stage proved futile, and they settled for a third-placed berth and a spot in Europe’s second-tier tournament.

Arsenal progressed as winners from their group, bypassing an extra two games in the knockout round playoffs. They are also currently leading the Premier League, holding a five-point advantage with 12 games left to play.

The Gunners have never been knocked out in the last 16 of Europe’s second-tier tournament, and they are growing restless for a slice of continental glory. However, with a comfortable position in the Premier League, success in the Europa League is less of a priority than in previous years.

Goalless draw

En route to the final in the 2018-19 season, Arsenal edged past Sporting 1-0 during the group stage, and a subsequent goalless draw made it four games without a win or goal for the Portuguese giants against their London counterparts.

Sporting will miss midfielder Manuel Ugarte, who picked up his third European booking of the season and will be suspended. With Daniel Braganca still recovering from a ruptured cruciate ligament, 19-year-old Argentina starlet Mateo Tanlongo should come in for a start. Matheus Reis and Jeremiah St. Juste could come in at the back, but Hector Bellerin will likely start on the bench against his old club.

Aside from Trossard, Arsenal could also be without Gabriel Jesus, Mohamed Elneny, and Eddie Nketiah. Mikel Arteta will have to shuffle the pack with Gabriel Martinelli likely to shoulder the goalscoring burden in the number nine spot and Emile Smith Rowe coming in for his first start of the season on the left-hand side. Despite the injuries, Arteta will be hoping his side take a healthy lead back to the Emirates Stadium for the second leg on March 16.