By Walter Broeckx
A lot of changes in the starting line up. Sokratis returning after his injury. Another start also for Jenkinson after his match last week.
Arsenal starting team: Cech, Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, Holding, Jenkinson, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Smith Rowe, Welbeck, Iwobi.
On the beach: Martinez, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Nketiah, Torreira, Aubameyang
Welbeck almost stopping a long kick from the keeper but the ball runs in a save way for Sporting. Arsenal dictating the pace of the game but not creating clear chances. And having to be attentive on Sporting trying to counter at speed sometimes. Mkhitaryan winning the ball in the Sporting penalty area but a defender can clear just in front of Welbeck. Smith Rowe with a shot from distance but well over. Still 0-0 after 15 minutes.
Smith Rowe with a lovely turn but a defender can stop his promising run. Then a low cross from the right that is deflected by Welbeck is cleared off the line by a defender with the keeper beaten. Mkhitaryan gets an arm in the face but no card is given. Arsenal quickly attack and win a free kick on the right flank but the header from Welbeck goes over the goal. Lichtsteiner gets a yellow card for a tackle on Nani. Welbeck again with a header but it was more with his shoulder so no real power. Welbeck then stays down after having clashed with his marker and needing treatment. He looks in pain and needing a stretcher. Oh that is bad. Welbeck has to be taken off and looks very seriously injured with what might be a broken leg or ankle. Aubameyang comes in his place after 28 minutes. When the match restarts Jenkinson on the overlap but he can’t find a striker with his cross. Still 0-0 after 30 minutes.
Sporting players making a few fouls that look nasty but some not even called by the ref. A good cross from Lichtsteiner but just too high for Smith Rowe to connect. Finally a yellow card against Sporting when the bring down Iwobi in a cynical way. Losing Welbeck seems to have gotten in to the head of some players. The ref is really reluctant to give fouls in favour of Arsenal….. Sporting seems only interested in keeping the 0-0 and they look to be successful in it as we go in at half time with that score. Arsenal dominated the half but didn’t create enough to be in front.
Mkhitaryan with a good cross but the shot from Aubameyang cannoned of the woodwork for a goalkick. At the other end Jenkinson had to block a shot from close range with his ribs and he felt it. The first real attempt from Sporting in the match? Smith Rowe cut inside from the left but his shot was deflected but no corner given. Iwobi with a pass to Aubameyang but he hits the side net. After one hour Jenkinson comes off and Kolasinac comes on with the score still at 0-0.
Sporting not really interested in anything else than getting over the 90 minutes. A Sporting defender rightfully gets a yellow card for dissent. And not a minute later he steps on the foot of Smith Rowe and could have been given a second yellow card. Lichtsteiner then pulls up and Sporting don’t put the ball out of play and Guendouzi then has a go at Nani at the expense of a yellow card. Maitland-Niles comes on in his place after 72 minutes. Luis from Sporting goes in the book for a foul on Sokratis. Still 0-0 after 75 minutes.
Iwobi with a low cross but the tap from Mkhitaryan is not enough to beat the keeper. A low cross from Kolasinac finds Aubameyang but his goal bound shot is blocked by a defender. Aubameyang then first on the ball and being tripped just outside the Sporting penalty area when he would have been alone on goal. A foul and a red card against Mathieu in minute 87. Aubameyang with the free kick but well over.
Arsenal tried and tried but it was much transpiration but not enough inspiration on the night. Sporting came for a point and got it with a performance that drives people out of the stands. But in the end we didn’t do enough and losing Welbeck for a long time is a heavy price we have to pay for it.
I think that our manager should have played a more experienced site and then settle for the youngsters in the last two matches. We have qualified now I think but the first place in the group is not secured yet so we have to go for one more win in the final two matches and those are played in a difficult period.
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