Arsenal ensured their berth into the last 32 of the Europa League after they played out a goalless stalemate against Portuguese side Sporting. The Gunners need a victory to secure the top position alongside knockout qualification but they were denied the opportunity to do so after a resolute defensive performance from the away side.
Two things we learned:
Danny Welbeck’s injury woes extend: Danny Welbeck could have quite easily become the go-to man for the Gunners upfront but over the past four years, he has been hampered by numerous injuries. Among those, he has suffered two knee ligament injuries which have dented his gametime and just when he was excelling under the guidance of Unai Emery, he has succumbed to another long-term injury concern. Speaking after the goalless draw versus Sporting, Emery confirmed that the ex-Manchester United graduate had broken his ankle and this appears certain to rue the remainder of the season for the attacker. Welbeck’s current deal at the Emirates expires during the summer of 2019 and it remains to be seen how the future paves for the winger after recovering from the latest injury setback.
Arsenal’s improved defensive showing: The Gunners have been known to be vulnerable at the heart of the backline but they have certainly improved on this statistic in the European competition this term. The north London giants kept their third-straight clean sheet in the Europa League in the recent stalemate versus Sporting and what was more impressive was the fact that they restricted their opponents from having a single shot on target. A neutral may suggest that the Gunners have been up against inferior opposition in Europe but they have nonetheless experienced a testing challenge with goalkeeper Bernd Leno being influential during one of those matches against Qarabag where he curbed the early attacking threat with key saves.
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