- Uefa offer pathetic compensation, knowing that the English media is at their command
- How best to explain why Arsenal are top of the league
By Bulldog Drummond
Sporting Clube de Portugal (also known as Sporting CP and Sporting Lisbon but not to be confused with Sporting Braga) who Arsenal play in the Europa League on Thursday, have been having rather a good run of late, both in terms of qualifying for the final part of the Europa League and holding on to fourth place in the league.
However, although they are fourth, they are actually 22 points behind Benfica, the eternal Portuguese table toppers. So rather like Tottenham Hotspur, they are there, but not really thereabouts when it comes to domestic arrangements.
Sporting Clube de Portugal have won their last four games, these being against Chaves (13th in the league), Midtjylland (in the Europa playoffs having gained a draw in their home match with an equaliser in the fourth minute of time added on), Estoril (15th out of 18 in the league) and Portimonense (14th in the league). So not too many big tests for them of late.
In the Champions League Sporting were pretty much hammered throughout, beating Tottenham in their second game (which is to be fair, not that hard) and then losing to Marseille and Eintracht Frankfurt in order to earn the playoff play for entry to the Europa.
That was the round Arsenal avoided, by winning their group. Sporting drew at home with Midtjylland but then won the second leg away from home 0-4 to go through to the knockout stages in the final section of the competition.
As for recent achievements, Sporting fans might tell you they won the Champions Cup last season, and that is true – in hockey.
They have won the league in Portugal nine times, the most recent being in 2021. Last season they came second, so their current position reveals something of a decline.
But the big link with Arsenal is that in the current squad is… Hector Bellerin, who is on loan from Barcelona. Since coming on loan he has played four times for the team scoring one goal. He played in both the home and away games in their two previous Europa games, so may well be lining up against Arsenal on this occasion.
So let’s have a look at their last six games as we often do.
|11 Feb 2023
|Arsenal v Brentford
|15 Feb 2023
|Arsenal v Manchester City
|18 Feb 2023
|Aston Villa v Arsenal
|25 Feb 2023
|Leicester City v Arsenal
|01 Mar 2023
|Arsenal v Everton
|04 Mar 2023
|Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth
Sporting have won four, drawn one and lost one.
|12 Feb 2023
|Sporting v Porto
|16 Feb 2023
|Sporting v Midtjylland
|20 Feb 2023
|Chaves v Sporting
|23 Feb 2023
|Midtjylland v Sporting
|27 Feb 2023
|Sporting v Estoril
|4 Mar 2023
|Sporting v Portimonense
So what we see here are two sets of results that are remarkably similar: in the first case drawn, lost, and four wins. In the second case lost, drawn, and four wins.
Arsenal scored 14 and conceded eight. Sporting have scored 12 and conceded five.
We’ll be looking at the game in more detail tomorrow, although first of all there will be a very welcome commentary from an old friend.
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