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Sporting 0-1 Arsenal: Danny Welbeck late thunder strike earns another win and 11 in a row for the gunners

This is more like a juggernaut, careering into any team that dares oppose them.

Perhaps that’s over egging the pudding slightly. But after years of malaise under Arsene Wenger; Arsenal are back. And they are back with a vengeance.

Their win here in Lisbon wasn’t easy on the eye. The free-flowing football that destroyed Leicester City in the second half on Monday night deserted them.

But this was a gutsy, resilient Arsenal. An Arsenal we haven’t seen since Patrick Vieira, Tony Adams et al ruled the roost in north London.

Ask yourself this? Would Arsenal have won this entirely scrappy affair if Wenger was still in charge?

You may think yes. But under Emery, the Gunners looked far more equipped to slum it and still find a way to emerge victorious.

Against Sporting it was Danny Welbeck who took the acclaim, firing home in the second half to maintain Arsenal’s 100 percent start to their Europa League campaign.

Barring a miraculous collapse in their final three group games, Arsenal are as good as qualified for the knockout stages.

The way Arsenal are responding to Emery’s tutelage suggests such a calamity won’t be forthcoming.

After the highs of Monday night’s rip-roaring display against Leicester, whatever came next would inevitably be somewhat of a come down.

One shot on target in the first half – a routine save from Renan Ribeiro from Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s free kick – was quite the come down.

It wasn’t for the lack of effort, nor quality – both teams fielding relatively strong line-ups: Aaron Ramsey, Pierre-Emrick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan all starting for the Gunners while former Manchester United star Nani starred for Sporting.


Sporting Lisbon XI (4-3-3): Ribeiro 7; Ristovski 5 (Gaspar 45, 5), Coates 4, Pinto 6, Acuna 6; Battaglia 6, Petrovic 6, (Cabral 71,), Nani 6 (Diaby 86), Montero 6, Fernandes 6

Subs not used: Salin, Mane, Mathieu, Diaby, Luis

Booked: Coates, Acuna, Battaglia, Cabral

Manager: Peseiro 6

Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Leno 6.5; Lichtsteiner 6.5, Sokratis 7.5, Holding 7, Xhaka 6.5; Guendouzi 7, Elneny 6 (Torreira 58, 7), Ramsey 7; Mkhitaryan 6.5, Welbeck 7 (Lacazette 81); Aubameyang 6.5 (Iwobi 86)

Subs not used: Martinez, Ozil, Mustafi, Jenkinson

Booked: Holding, Mkhitaryan

Manager: Emery 7

Goal: Welbeck 77

Referee: Damir Skomina

Attendance: 40,784

MOM: Sokratis.

But the opening 45 minute was a world away from that dazzling display against the Foxes.

The Gunners accumulated 65 per cent possession in the first half. They could have played a 65 minute first half and still wouldn’t have scored.

Granit Xhaka, who was playing in an unfamiliar left-back role last night, warned us this could happen in the pre-match press conference. ‘We can’t score three goals every game’, the Swiss said. Maybe he knew something we didn’t.

In fairness to Arsenal, the trip to Lisbon was, on paper, the hardest game of their Europa League group campaign.

The first half certainly lived up to that billing. Not that Sporting created much either – Nani’s fierce strike over the bar from distance the best they could muster.


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