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Morning all.

Are you enjoying reading the back pages in the newspapers this morning? All is not well at the neighbours that’s for sure and it makes for amusing headlines.

At Arsenal though, Gabriel Jesus is back and wasn’t ready for a return to first team action, I very much doubt Thomas Partey would be getting stuck into him as the photo above shows. I watched the training video too and our Brazilian striker is holding nothing back. What a huge boost it is for Mikel Arteta and the team/squad to have such a quality player return to the mix but I can’t see him starting tonight.

No sign of Eddie Nketiah or Leandro Trossard in the training photos but both Jorginho and Emile Smith Rowe, who were substituted at the weekend, were fully involved.

I know absolutely nothing about Sporting CP other than they’re a Portuguese club in the country’s top League. Thankfully though, Arsenal’s Jonathan Rogers does so I’ve pinched some info from his article on the official club website.

Over the past 12 months, a transfer raid on Sporting has seen a number of star names depart. In the summer, Matheus Nunes headed to Wolves, Nuno Mendes to PSG and Joao Palhinha switched to Fulham for a combined £83 million, while Ruben Vinagre and Pedro Porro left in January on loan moves to Everton and Tottenham respectively – both having spent a matter of months in Lisbon.

That instability has affected Sporting. A poor start saw them win just once in their first four league games, leaving them playing catch-up since September. They currently sit in fourth place behind runaway leaders and city rivals Benfica, as well as Porto and Braga. They have won six of their last seven league games to build up some momentum, however their last defeat saw them denied a third-straight League Cup after losing 2-0 in the final to Porto at the end of January.

Their European form has been more promising. They won their opening two Champions League group games against Tottenham and Eintracht Frankfurt but would eventually finish behind the pair to enter the Europa League, but only due to a stoppage-time Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg goal that saw Spurs beat Marseille and demoted the French side to the bottom of the group. After that reprieve, Sporting knocked out FC Midtjylland 5-1 on aggregate after an impressive 4-0 second-leg win in Denmark.

Arsenal signed Fabio Vieira from Porto so has his knowledge of Sporting CP been useful?

For sure, that was the first thing that we did because it’s great to have the knowledge and the understanding of someone from the country, who knows the manager and has [international] teammates. It’s always very useful and he talked really highly.

The last time Arsenal played Sporting was back in 2018 in this competition but at the group stage. We won in Portugal but drew at The Emirates. Much has changed since then though for both clubs. Both have different managers for a start as well as different players. Pedro Goncalves is their goal machine with 16 scored so far this season. Hector Bellerin is on loan at Sporting from Barcelona.

Only later today will we find out how much or how little Mikel Arteta is going to change his team but as he said yesterday, both the Premier League and Europa Cup are his priority rather than just one or the other. Even so, logic suggests we’ll see a few changes to the starting eleven which faced Bournemouth. Ironically, it was the changes Mikel Arteta made at the weekend which made the difference in the end.

I’m sure it’ll be a tough challenge for whichever players go up against Sporting because Portuguese clubs are always tough to play against but over two legs, there’s no reason we can’t come out on top.

Catch up in the comments.