Sporting CP vs Arsenal: Sort of Instant Reaction
The first leg of the Europa League round of 16 is in the book. Let's react to it.
A delayed instant reaction to Arsenal’s first-leg tie against Sporting.
Headline: Well they didn’t lose it
This was a match that felt like it could have gone either way and I think the big takeaway for me is that Arsenal did not lose the tie here.
Some of the worrying signs from the past few matches were here; Arsenal were cut through a little too easily and a little too often, the set play defense looked a little suspect (more on that below), and the finishing and final ball still felt a bit off.
There are a few plausible explanations for this, it was a pretty heavily rotated team with 6 changes (5 from what might be considered the first eleven) and it did seem to take the team some time to gel and get into a groove.
In my notes I had the 13th minute as the time where I felt like Arsenal finally woke up and really started putting things together (they ended up getting a goal). Arsenal looked good on either side of halftime but ended up with a couple of goals that were generally against the run of play, and failed to convert their big chances.
Overall like so many of the matches where Arsenal have rotated heavily this season, you can see the flashes of the team that is top of the league but it feels like you are looking at it through a foggy window with things not quite at same level of clarity.
That was the impression I got today.
The team looked good, working the ball into the final third often and effectively.
When it came time to have the final ball it didn’t quite turn into a shot or a killer pass.
I come away with this thinking that Arsenal are in a fine spot for looking to advance but it wasn’t as strong as I hoped. According to FiveThirtyEight Arsenal are 73% to advance with the score tied going back to London. I will take the positive that they didn’t lose the tie here and got the minimum job done to it only takes a win at home to advance and escaped without any injuries.
Stock Rising: Fabio Vieira
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