Arsenal vs Benfica: Europa League preview


rsenal face perhaps their most important game of the season so far as they meet Benfica in the last-32 of the Europa League on Thursday evening.

Mikel Arteta’s side are currently down in 11th in the Premier League, 11 points off the top four, and as such this competition represents their best chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League, not to mention ending this campaign with silverware.

The Gunners were the better side in last week’s first-leg but have only a slender advantage to show for it in the shape of Bukayo Saka’s away goal in a 1-1 draw.

To complicate matters further, Thursday’s ‘home’ leg will – as with the first leg – be played at a neutral venue, this time in Athens, because of Covid travel restrcitions.

Date, kick-off time and venue

Arsenal vs Benfica is scheduled for a 5:55pm kick-off on Thursday, February 25, 2021.

The game will take place behind closed doors at Karaiskasis Stadium in Athens because of current coronavirus restrcitions.

TV channel: Today’s match will be televised on BT Sport.

Live stream: BT Sport subscribers will be able to watch the match online via the website or BT Sport app.

Midfielder Thomas Partey faces a late fitness test to determine whether he is fit enough to be involved after a hamstring problem, while the Gunners will definitely be without Rob Holding after he was substituted with concussion during Sunday’s defeat to Manchester City.

Arsenal predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney; Ceballos, Xhaka; Saka, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang; Lacazette

Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Benfica

It seems inevitable that this will be far from a smooth ride for Arsenal fans, particulalrly if you consider how their tie with Olympiacos went at this stage of last year’s competition.

But Mikel Arteta has urged his side to learn from that experience and if they take their chances in what’s sure to be a tight affair they may just come out on top.

Head to head (h2h) history and results

This will be only the fourth meeting between the sides, following last week’s 1-1 draw and a two-legged European Cup tie in 1991, which Benfica won 4-2 on aggregate.

Bettings odds and tips (subject to change)

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